Before we dig into the findings of the study, I need to acknowledge the amazing staff of the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start programs across the country. I was fortunate enough to attend the National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association Annual Conference in early March of this year, and I met so many passionate champions of migrant children and their families. The focus on the strengths of migrant families and the encouragement by the national leadership team to keep persisting in these challenging times truly inspired me. In fact, I was so inspired I committed to highlighting at least one of the key features of the conference—the results of the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Study—in an upcoming blog post. This is it.
In 2015, the Administration for Children and Families funded a study—the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Study (MSHS Study)—to focus on MSHS programs and the families they serve. As a long-time Head Start partner, all of us at Teaching Strategies, myself included, are interested in the MSHS Study because it gives us a lot of information about programs, centers, and the migrant and seasonal families they serve. That information helps us offer meaningful and relevant support to our MSHS partners and can even help us think critically about the support we offer to the rest of our partners.
It’s important to note that the MSHS Study is a “next step” study, meaning that it was preceded by a study—the Design for Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Survey (DMSHS Survey)—conducted from 2007-2011. As explained in the MSHS Study, the DMSHS Survey provided extensive information about the unique characteristics of the MSHS programs and the appropriate methods for studying the programs. This information is built upon in the MSHS Study.
Let’s take a closer look!
The MSHS Study gathered information from the following sources:
- Programs and centers—collected from surveys of program and center directors
- Classrooms—collected through classroom observations and from surveys of teachers and assistant teachers
- Families—collected from interviews with parents
- Children—collected from direct assessments, assessor ratings, and parent and teacher ratings of children
It focused on three primary research questions:
- What are the characteristics of MSHS programs, centers, staff, families, and children?
- What services does MSHS provide, and what are the instructional practices and general classroom quality of MSHS classrooms?
- What are the associations between MSHS characteristics and child/family well-being?
These are key findings in two areas of the MSHS Study: Children’s Social and Emotional Skills and Parents’ Well-Being.
Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Children’s Social and Emotional Skills
|Of the teachers who responded:
||Of the parents who responded:
Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Parents’ Well-Being
|Parents reported experiencing the following stressors:
*Despite these stressors, 73% of parents reported no or few depressive factors
|Parents reported the following sources of strength:
Programs reported supporting parent well-being in these ways:
- 83% say they are somewhat or very concerned about parents’ behavioral and mental health
- 91% say their staff has received training to address mental health issues in the preceding year
- 98% say they have collaborative relationships with community mental health providers
- 73% say there is somewhat or a great need for more collaboration with mental health providers