While he was growing up along Florida’s east coast, Misael Rangel’s immigrant parents were working hard to provide for their family. His father picked oranges and other citrus fruits and his mother worked in the packing fields. Their long days of physical labor often led to a kind of improvised childcare.
“My mom would have to find people to take care of my siblings and me,” said Rangel, 20, now a college student. “That was hard. They didn’t know a lot of people who weren’t working like they were, so the options were limited.” One time, he recalled, he and his brother stayed with a neighbor who locked them in a room for hours without food because they misbehaved.
Fortunately, Rangel’s parents heard about the National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Program and enrolled him in it. The program provides children up to age five with a safe learning environment, and prepares them for the transition to public school.
Active in 38 states, the program seeks to ensure that the children of those who put food on our tables are just as ready for school when they begin kindergarten or first grade as any other American child.