Frequently Asked Questions


What is the difference between “migrant” and “immigrant”?

In the context of the Migrant Education Program, the term "migrant" refers to an individual who, within the past 36 months, has moved across school district boundaries with the intent to obtain seasonal or temporary employment in agriculture, fishing, and dairy of food processing work. "Immigrant" refers to a person who has entered the United States from another country. Not all migrant farm workers are immigrants, and not all immigrants are farm workers.

What should I do if I suspect a child is migrant?

Contact the Mississippi Migrant Education Service Center at Mississippi State University – (662) 325-1815 or email to find the Migrant Education Recruiter for your area. Also, you can complete an online referral form by visiting or using our QR code to access the survey.

Who is eligible for Migrant Education services?

Educational and support services can be provided for children and youth from birth to 21 of migratory agricultural workers, dairy workers, and certain food processing workers. These children must have crossed a school district line with or to join a migrant parent, guardian, or on their own within the preceding 36 months. The move must have been to engage in temporary or seasonal employment in agriculture. If you are uncertain of whether you or a child would qualify for migrant education services, contact the Mississippi Migrant Education Service Center at Mississippi State University—(662) 325-1815—to find the Migrant Education Recruiter closest to you.

Do migrant parents have to fill out an application for their children to receive free lunch at school?

No, migrant children are categorically eligible once they are enrolled in the migrant program.

How long is a child eligible for services?

Eligibility is for 36 months beginning on the qualifying arrival date.

How are migrant children recruited?

The MMESC migrant recruiters are responsible for recruiting migrant children into the Migrant Education Program. Recruiters locate children through referrals from local school districts, farms and agribusinesses, community partners and agencies, and other migrant families. Once a migrant family is identified, recruiters interview family members to determine if the children are eligible for migrant education services. Recruiters also help migrant families find other services that they may be eligible for. If you know of a family that may be eligible for migrant services, contact the Mississippi Migrant Education Service Center at Mississippi State University—(662) 325-1815—to find the Migrant Education Recruiter closest to you.

How can parents be involved in their child's education?

  • Volunteer your time at the school and your child's extracurricular activities
  • Attend the MMESC’s Parent Advisory Council (PAC) meetings
  • Keep in touch with the school
  • Vote in school board elections
  • Become an advocate for better education in your community
  • Make parent-teacher conferences a priority
  • Visit your child's classroom
  • Attend Parent-Teacher Association meetings
  • Help organize or work at school fundraising activities
  • Help to plan and chaperone field trips
  • Discuss your child's progress with teachers
  • Read together with your children at home
  • Establish a regular, daily routine for studying and homework
  • Help your children with their homework and check it every night
  • Keep tabs on your child's after-school activities and make sure they are supervised
  • Limit the amount of time your children watch TV, play video games and use the computer
  • Talk to you children about their school day and listen intently
  • Express high expectations of your children
  • Be a role model to you children and demonstrate to your children that you value learning, self-discipline and hard work
  • Contact the Migrant Education Program office close to where you live
  • Bring your children to school on time
  • Be sure that the children eat well. This includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Can a public school district or an individual public school in Mississippi refuse to enroll a child because the family cannot produce documentation regarding the child's citizenship or legal entry into the United States?

No, students who live in Mississippi may not be denied admission to public schools based on their lawful or unlawful immigration status. In 1982, the Supreme Court of the United States under Player v. Doe (457 U.S. 202) (1982) struck down a Texas statute that allowed local school districts to deny admission to students who were not legally admitted into the United States. Determining the legality of a student's immigration status is not a duty of the local school district. Undocumented children have the same right to attend public schools as do U.S. citizens and permanent residents. In fact, the student's parents and the district officials have an obligation to see that the students attend school as mandated by the school attendance laws of Mississippi.

Is the Migrant Education Program available throughout the United States?

Yes, the Migrant Education Program operates in 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

What are the special educational needs of migrant students?

Migrant students require a variety of special educational needs. This includes a need for high-quality and comprehensive educational programs to reduce the educational disruption that results from frequent moves; and increased academic and personal support to ensure that migrant children who move between states are not penalized by disparities among the states in curriculum, graduation, requirements, academic content or academic achievement standards. Supportive services often include assistance to overcome cultural and language barriers; social isolation; and health-related problems. Other services may also include advocacy for migrant children; health, nutrition and social services for migrant families; necessary educational supplies; and transportation.

Where does the funding for the Mississippi Migrant Education Program come from?

Funding for the Migrant Education Program comes from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015. The total funding amount is determined on a yearly basis through Congressional appropriation.

What determines the amount of migrant education dollars that each state receives?

The U.S. Department of Education allocates Title I, Part C Migrant Education Program funds to states through a statutory formula based primarily on the state's migrant student count, the number of migrant children who receive summer or intercession services, and the cost of education in each state.

How does the program decide which migrant students to provide services for?

The Migrant Education Program gives priority for services to migrant children, who are failing, or most at risk for failing; and whose education has been interrupted during the regular school year. To determine which students are most at risk of failing, Migrant Education Program staff relies on a variety of factors, including local academic assessment data and the degree to which the child is subject to multiple risk factors (i.e. being retained in grade or overage for grade, limited English proficient, etc.).

Are there certain parental involvement components that migrant education programs must comply with?

Parental Involvement is an integral part of the Migrant Education Program, as research shows that parents play a significant role in the academic achievement of their children. Therefore, it is important for parents and schools to develop partnerships and build ongoing dialogues to improve student achievement. Migrant education programs are required to conduct parental involvement activities, including:

  • A written parental involvement policy
  • Policy involvement of parents in an organized, ongoing and timely way in the implementation of the Migrant Education Program
  • Development of a school-parent compact in order to share the responsibility for high student academic achievement
  • Capacity-building of parents and school staff for strong parental involvement; and
  • Effective access to parental involvement activities
  • In addition, parental involvement activities must be conducted in a format and language understandable to parents

How do limited English proficient students fit into the Migrant Education Program?

School Districts have a responsibility to provide services to migrant students who are limited English proficient (LEP). Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin in any program or activity that receives Federal financial assistance. In Lau v. Nichols (414 U.S. 684) (1974), the Supreme Court held that school districts must offer LEP children meaningful opportunities to participate in the programs they offer to other students. Therefore, school districts must offer students with special language needs services that enable them to participate meaningfully in school. School districts may not use Migrant Education Program funds to meet their Title VI responsibilities.