Early Childhood Matters No. 121
Publication Date
Publication Date: 
November 1, 2013

"The Bernard van Leer Foundation’s interest in the children of seasonal migrant workers is inspired by our strategic goal to improve children’s health by improving their living conditions."

"This issue of Early Childhood Matters focuses on an almost invisible population - people who migrate seasonally in search of work, and their children. Often they live in poor quality temporary accommodation close to the work site, where children are exposed to risks of accidents and illness, and below the radar of local authorities meaning they can't access services such as preschool, school and healthcare.

Articles explore the living conditions of seasonal migrant workers' children, and experiences with programmes designed to improve those conditions. Contributions come from the United States, India, Turkey, Mexico, Nicaragua and Africa."

The contents include:

  • Realities of life for children of seasonal migrant workers - Selim Iltus introduces the articles in this edition of Early Childhood Matters and explains why children of seasonal migrant workers face particular challenges that require our special attention.
  • An early childhood programme tailored to migrant and seasonal farmworkers’ children - Guadalupe Cuesta and Kevin Skolnik describe the United States' Migrant/Seasonal Head Start programme (MSHS), which seeks to ensure that the children of seasonal migrant farmworkers do not miss out on the early childhood services, such as free childcare for 10-12 hours a day and transportation for children to preschool services and health care facilities. 
  • Health risks for children of seasonal migrant agricultural workers - Martin Donohoe highlights the main health hazards faced by seasonal migrant agricultural workers and their children, including vulnerability to communicable and respiratory diseases and exposure to pesticides.
  • Information map: Living conditions and young children - A Bernard van Leer foundation infographic to support understanding of the needs of migrant children.
  • Seasonal agricultural migration in Turkey and young children - Özsel Beleli outlines the current state of young children of seasonal migrant workers in Turkey and explores three possible axes along which solutions could be based.
  • Seasonal migrants’ realities: a study of 686 Turkish households - Müge Artar details a study of households in Turkey who leave their permanent residences and migrate to agriculturally intensive areas for jobs such as planting, harvesting, and hoeing.
  • The children of seasonal migrants in Turkey are still vulnerable - Mehmet Ülger and Astrid van Unen made a 2010 film documentary, Children of the Season, on the story of child labour and poor working and living conditions among Turkish seasonal migrants employed to harvest hazelnuts. "Its reception was explosive: governments, companies and international organisations were in uproar, and the film triggered a raft of activity. However, as this article by the documentary makers relates, the children of seasonal migrants still remain vulnerable."
  • A healthy and safe environment for young migrants at urban Indian worksites - Umi Daniel shares the findings of a study conducted by Aide et Action and the Bernard van Leer Foundation to assess the situation of seasonal migrant workers’ children in Indian cities. He also describes a model intervention at a brickworks in Hyderabad to explore how safer and healthier living conditions can be created for these children.
  • The Humara Bachpan campaign: a success for seasonal migrant children in Odisha - Jyoti Prakash Brahma describes how the Humara Bachpan campaign in the Indian state of Odisha successfully persuaded the state government to issue guidelines about providing government services to seasonal migrant children.
  • Meeting migrant families’ needs through on-site crèches - Mridula Bajaj and Mayanka Gupta describe how the Mobile Crèches models work, evidence of their impact, and a study conducted by the organisation into the conditions of Indian migrants.
  • Political action for the children of seasonal migrant farm labourers in Mexico - Patricia Urbieta and Claudia Cabrera investigate the situation of migrant farm labourers - and their children - in Mexico, and the public policy solutions that have been pursued over the last two decades.
  • ‘Families must be supported’: a view from the private sector - Dora Isabel Ochoa Aguilar is the Human Resources Manager at Agrícola BelHer1, a company that grows tomatoes in the Mexican state of Sinaloa. In this interview, she talks to Early Childhood Matters about her company’s efforts over the past two decades to improve living conditions for the children of the seasonal migrant workers it employs.
  • Children of seasonal agricultural migrant workers: an African perspective - Moussa Harouna Sambo provides an African perspective on the effects on children of seasonal migration, from the Mouvement Africain des Enfants et Jeunes Travailleurs (MJEJT) (the African Movement of Working Children and Youth), which has member organisations in 22 African countries and almost 20 years of experience in areas such as migration, protection, education, and children’s rights. 
  • Cash transfers, information, and seasonal migration - Karen Macours describes a study which examines the question "would those children be better off staying behind with extended family members?", along with further efforts to explore the implications of its findings.

Click here to acces these titles online.


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Bernard van Leer Foundation website, December 6 2013. Image credit: Selim Iltus/Bernard van Leer Foundation