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Growing Healthy Children: Growers and Childcare Providers Meet to Protect Agricultural Worker Kids

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This week, MCN’s Juliana Simmons, MSPH, CHES, Environmental and Occupational Health Program Manager, arrived in Las Vegas to facilitate a focus group with childcare providers and growers -- an uncommon pairing of professions that is at the core of Protecting Children While Parents Work, a program of Migrant Clinicians Network and the National Children's Center for Rural Agricultural Health and Safety (NCCRAHS). The program emphasizes that growers and childcare providers share a common goal: to assure that workers’ children are not injured in an agricultural setting while their parents work nearby.

“We wanted to bring together this group to get feedback on one of the specific aims Protecting Children: developing a networking strategy that could be used by any community to help growers and childcare providers come together and find common ground,” explained Simmons. “We really needed to bring the stakeholder groups together to find out what it would really look like.”

Simmons co-facilitated with Marsha Salzwedel from NCCRHS. The meeting was the culmination of three years of work on the project, during which Simmons, MCN staff, and NCCRAHS colleagues have completed childcare center site visits, childcare provider phone interviews, surveys among growers and parents, and face-to-face meetings with growers. The group met one day ahead of the National Council for Agricultural Employers annual Ag Employer Forum, with participants from farms and farm bureaus hailing from seven states across the country.


people sitting around table

Growers and childcare providers meet in Las Vegas to assure farmworker children are provided safe spaces while their parents work

“One of the messages echoed throughout the meeting was a desire for collaboration among growers and childcare providers,” Simmons said. “Growers are increasingly concerned about the agricultural labor shortage and are very interested in learning how increased childcare options could help draw families to their area."

The meeting represents a critical step forward with the project. “The discussion provided valuable feedback about next steps for the Protecting Children While Parents Work project, and will help the team to craft resources that are useful for both childcare providers and growers," Simmons explained. The tool will “walk someone through the steps to develop relationships between growers and childcare providers, like how to do community asset mapping, and how to establish partnerships to keep agricultural worker children safe -- which is the ultimate goal of this project.”


Learn More:

You can learn more about Protecting Children on MCN’s Environmental and Occupational Health Initiatives site.

The NCCRAHS is supported by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health as part of its Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing Program.

A recent special issue of the Journal of Agromedicine included several articles publishing the early findings of Protecting Children and further delineating the importance of the issue: “Caring for Children While Working in Agriculture -- The Perspective of Farmworker Parents,” “Using the Socio-Ecological Model to Frame Agricultural Safety and Health Interventions,” “Employers’ Perspective on Childcare Services for Hired Farm Workers,”


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