How Redlands Christian Migrant Association is helping farmworker families recover from the devastation of Hurricane Irma in southern Florida.
By Stephanie Presch, Content Specialist, UnidosUS
In southern Florida in the 1960s, farmworkers with children had little choice but to bring their children into the fields with them, exposing them to pesticides, snakes, and extreme heat. Some children even died due to contact with heavy machinery, or from falling into wells.
Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA) was founded in response to the reports that migrant farmworkers had nowhere to bring their children while they were out in the fields. In those early days, they had two early learning centers for children of migrant and farmworker families.
But RCMA’s two early learning centers weren’t well-attended at the time. So the organization sought the help of Wendell Rollason, an outspoken immigrant rights advocate, who noticed one day that farmworker families were much more likely to sign up their children for child care through one of the centers if they saw people who looked like them working at the center.
Today, RCMA operates 66 centers across 21 counties in Florida, including three charter schools and nine afterschool programs. Each center was able to open because RCMA received an invitation from the community.