Illinois Migrant & Seasonal Head Start (IMSHS)

What is the purpose of this service?

The program provides child care and a comprehensive program of health, parent involvement, and social services for preschool children of low-income agricultural workers.

Who can receive these services?

You may qualify if you are a low-income agricultural worker with a child or children younger than 6 years old. Eligibility is determined by income, type of work, and age of the children. Ethnicity, race, religious affiliation, etc., are NOT eligibility determining factors.

(IMSHS defines "agricultural labor" to include fruit & vegetables, mushroom growing, flower farming, plant or tree nurseries, greenhouses, forestry, orchards, sod farming, grain/corn storage facilities, stock, dairy, poultry, livestock, fish, fur-farming; employment connected to fruit, vegetables, and grains packaging and canning, cultivating the soil, raising, de-tasseling and harvesting any agricultural or horticultural commodity, orchards, dairying, bees/apiaries; including the raising, shearing, feeding, processing, training, and caring for livestock; swine, sheep, beef cattle, ponies, or horses, and poultry, fish, and fur-bearing animals and wildlife.)

What services are offered?

  • Family and Community Engagement: 

    • Parents are encouraged to engage and influence program activities such as planning for and participating in: group activities with their children; Parent Policy Committee at center or state level; sharing governing responsibilities with agency boards of directors; inter-generational literacy activities with their children; and, other educational sessions that help parents support their children's learning.
    • Family Service workers have work schedules that accommodate families' needs.
    • Program staff also assist parent sin identifying and accessing local community services.
    • The program develops and maintains strong community relationships to ensure service delivery.
  • Education & Child Development Program:

    • Provides a secure, stimulating environment in which all children are helped to develop physically, emotionally, mentally, and socially.
    • Embraces the philosophy of respectful caregiving that allows babies to develop at their own inherent pace, while providing them emotional support in a non-restraining physical environment.
    • The education program offers children, of all ages and abilities, opportunities for active learning experiences that will help them gain the skills, knowledge, and attitude necessary for success in public school and for later learning and life.
    • Classrooms must comply with state licensing standards and Head Start Performance Standards and offer full-time child care for children from 6 weeks to 6 years of age.
  • Health Services for children:

    • Public Health Departments, and other health service providers in the community collaborate with IMSHS to ensure children are up-to-date on a schedule of preventive and primary care - including medical, dental, immunization and nutrition screening, and exams.
    • When children need further assessment, treatment, or therapy, follow-up care plans are developed in consultation with parents, and families are referred for services.
    • Nutritionally balanced and culturally relevant meals are served to the children and provided, in part, through the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program.
    • Mental health consultants are available to work with staff, parents, and children to promote emotional well-being to offer training and to identify local resources when referrals are needed.
  • Special Services for children:

    • Children with disabilities receive comprehensive and individualized services, designed and implemented in partnership with the family and the providers of Part C and B services in each child's community.
    • Children are placed in inclusive classrooms based on their chronological age and additional staff is hired, if needed, to ensure the child receives optimal care and experiences.
    • Educational services are developed to build on each child's capabilities and strengths. Individualizing teaching for children who need more support helps ensure effective teaching for children with disabilities and other special needs across all developmental areas.
    • Children's Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) and Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals is part of effective teaching, individualizing, and creating inclusive environments to support children's positive outcomes.

How to apply?

Go to the Illinois Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Project Directory or call (217) 524-8187.

Illinois Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Manual

Illinois Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Reports