Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Study 2015-2019

Project Overview

Within the Office of Head Start, the Regional Office for Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) is responsible for Head Start programs that specifically serve the children and families of migrant and seasonal farmworkers. The Design for Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Survey provided extensive information about the unique characteristics of the MSHS programs and the appropriate methods for studying the programs. It was essential that the MSHS Study use culturally and linguistically appropriate measures, gather meaningful information about children age zero to five years of age, and be able to flexibly schedule for the unpredictable program season of MSHS centers.

In 2015, the Administration for Children and Families funded a new study—the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Study (MSHS Study)—to focus on MSHS programs and the families they serve. The MSHS Study planned a sample to examine the characteristics of the whole population of MSHS programs, centers, families and children across the United States (a nationally representative study). The study provides much-needed information on MSHS programs and centers, as well as the migrant and seasonal farmworker families they serve.

The MSHS Study gathered information from:

  • 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

Although the study gathered a range of program, practice and family information, a central theme of the data collection focused on language practice and the language skills and abilities of the children served. This provides a unique opportunity for researchers interested in the context of dual language learner development.

Research Questions:

  1. What are the characteristics of MSHS programs, centers, staff, families, and children?
  2. What services does MSHS provide, and what are the instructional practices and general classroom quality of MSHS classrooms?
  3. What are the associations between MSHS characteristics and child/family well-being?

Data are archived at the Child and Family Data Archive.

The contract for the MSHS Study was awarded in September 2015 to Abt Associates, with their partners the Catholic University of America and Westat.

The point of contact is Wendy DeCourcey.

  • User Guide to the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) Study 2017 Data Tables Report

    Published: February 12, 2020

    The MSHS study collected data between February 2017 and February 2018 from a planned representative sample of MSHS programs, centers, teachers, children and families. Data collection included:

    • Surveys from program directors, center directors, teachers and assistant teachers
    • Interviews with parents
    • Direct assessment and parent and teacher ratings of children’s skills
    • Direct classroom observation

    The study included a focus on bilingual language in context...

  • Migrant & Seasonal Head Start Study 2017: Key Indicator Slides

    Published: December 13, 2019

    Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) programs provide child development, family support, and family engagement services to young children zero to five years of age and their migrant and seasonal farmworker families. MSHS programs are designed to meet the unique needs of migrant and seasonally working families. The Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) Study provides a national picture of MSHS programs, centers, families, and children across the United States in 2017...

  • Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Parents' Well-Being

    Published: December 11, 2019

    Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) programs provide child development, family support, and family engagement services to young children and their migrant and seasonal farmworker families. MSHS programs are designed to meet the unique needs of migrant and seasonally working families. MSHS programs usually provide bilingual services and sometimes operate in non-standard hours or in varying locations throughout the agricultural season...

  • Brief from the MSHS Study 2017: Overview of the Study

    Published: June 24, 2019

    The Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) study is a nationally representative study of the MSHS programs. These programs served children age zero to five years whose families work primarily in agriculture. The study gathered...

  • Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Study 2017: Data Tables

    Published: June 24, 2019

    Within the Office of Head Start, the Regional Office for Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) is responsible for Head Start programs that specifically serve the children and families of migrant and seasonal farmworkers.

    MSHS programs have not participated in previous national Head Start studies for a number of reasons including: (1) the availability...

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