Glenda Ritz, Indiana superintendent of public instruction, and the Indiana Department of Education announced the expansion of the state’s Migrant Education Program May 12.
Seven new regional education centers have been unveiled, including one in Columbus, Ind.
The Migrant Education Program was put in place by the No Child Left Behind Act and aims to identify and serve 100 percent of migrant children ages 3 to 21.
While immigrants refers to people who legally move to a new country, migrants forgo legal formalities when crossing national borders.
“My department is committed to providing schools and communities with the resources they need to ensure that all children receive an equitable and high-quality education,” Ritz said in a press release.
The Indiana DOE claimed federal grant money in order to fund the efforts.
The program divides the state into six regions. Region 5 includes Columbus and Bloomington, as well as 24 other counties in southeast Indiana.
Migrant families who qualify for the program receive special services like tutoring, health care checkups and individual meetings with program coordinators. Families who have traveled from warmer climates are often supplied with warm clothing.
“We provide everything necessary for the kids to excel,” said Judith Grant, an identification and recruitment field specialist for region 5.
Grant said she hasn’t found any kids in Bloomington that qualify for the program, but the Columbus center has about 15 students who are bused to Columbus from as far north as Shelbyville, Ind., and as far south as Seymour, Ind.
Even though it covers a larger area, region 5 has fewer people than other regions, she said.
The Columbus center was added to an English as a Second Language education program in the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation.
Debbie Thomas, director of English language learners for BCSC, is regional director of the program.
Thomas said each student in the program will receive an iPad that will be theirs to keep, even if they move away from the area.
The iPads will be loaded with books selected for each student’s reading level.
Thomas said the iPads will be useful since migrants travel so often.
“We can track them as they go from one location to another,” she said.
School districts in each county send out work surveys to determine whether or not migrant families qualify for the services.
Grant recruits children who have moved from one school district to another in the past three years so that their guardian could find work in agriculture.
She visits the homes of families who might qualify to review their cases.
Thomas said they had no children in the program at the beginning of the year, but now 15 kids are involved. She said she expects to find more in August when school districts send out work surveys.