Migrant families adjusting to unusual school year

Posted at 11:20 PM, Sep 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-09 23:20:10-04

IMMOKALEE, FLA — Whether you chose to send your kids in person, or are keeping them home, back to school season this year hasn't been easy.

And for hundreds of migrant families in Immokalee, those challenges have been multiplied.

"I know the language, thank god, but it still makes it so hard on me to keep the kids on track especially when I'm working and the girls are at home," said Alejandra Lara, a migrant parent.

This time of year Lara and her family, would normally be in North Carolina where she'd do farm work.

"This year is different because of covid, I had to come back over here. I couldn't keep the kids in school and the day cares? There was nothing," she said.

And across town we hear a similar story from migrant parent Aide Herrera.

She spoke through a translator who told Fox 4, "When the season ends here [in Florida], they travel up to Maryland."

The pandemic sent a lot of those families scrambling, with some coming back to the Collier county school district way sooner than normal. But thankfully, they weren't alone.

"We have a lot of help. I would always call Mr. Medina. I know who my migrant helpers are so I run to them," said Lara.

She's talking about the district's Migrant Education Program, which helps families with anything from registration and college prep to school supplies and clothes.

The program is also staffed by many people who come from migrant families themselves.

"We get it because we've been through there, we've walked through there, we've walked through that path," said Juan Medina, who works with the Migrant Education Program.

This year, program leaders say the biggest struggle for frazzled migrant parents, was trying to navigate registration virtually.

"That was a barrier for us, a lot of our parents couldn't do that," said Marlene Dimas, who also works with the Migrant Education Program.

And as they continue to help, Dimas says they're also asking for some help themselves, after recently receiving cuts to the grants that they run on.

"Without them [donations] we couldn't continue giving to our families in need, so donations are the biggest resource that we have," said Dimas.

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