Migrant Head Start Child Care CentersEdit profile
This project consists of a prototype design for U.S. government funded childcare centers in rural areas of the eastern United States. The client is a large non-profit organization -- the East Coast Migrant Head Start Project (ECMHSP) – which provides child care for children of migrant farm workers in eastern U.S. agricultural areas. ECMHSP is funded by the Head Start program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The issue of child care for farmworker children has had a turbulent history in the United States. Since the early 20th century, families have traveled annually to harvest fruit and vegetable crops in rural areas of the United States. The ethnicity of the families has changed over the years from rural white and black families to the current Mexican and Central American families. What has not changed, however, is the hard-scrabble existence the families endure while following the “migrant stream,` as it is called. Traveling in vans and old cars, they migrate from Florida in the winter to Michigan in the summer with stops in between. Year after year the same families arrive for seasons as short as six weeks for blueberries in North Carolina, for instance, and as long as three months for pickles and peppers in Michigan. Although housed in mostly grower-provided units, families historically were not provided with child care both because of the short time they were in the location and the rural locations of the crops. Tragedy sometimes resulted when farm workers had no alternative but to bring the children in the fields with them. In recent decades, however, the federal government, recognizing the importance not only of the care for the children of these families but also the dependence of the grower on the labor they provide, has increased funding for child care. The ECMHSP, as part of an expansion grant in 2007, identified five sites in rural areas of the Eastern United States to build new childcare centers. Three of these centers are completed and are the subject of this submission. Two others are under construction. The design solution is composed of two main elements: 1. Steel frame, noncombustible, custom-designed modulars that were chosen both for their inherent construction speed and cost savings as well as their portability should crops and/or land use change. 2. Site-built elements, including covered decks, ramps, stairs and playgrounds. The novelty is to arrange the modulars in such a way as to create a natural circulation and gathering corridor between the structures. A creative roof system covers this area, letting in light and air and creating a shaded play area. This unique clustering results in a visually appealing center that is more conducive to learning than the traditional, unimaginative placement of modulars.