Advocating for Early Childhood Education at the National Level
Updated: Jan 14
Daniel Jaime’s childhood memories always take him back to the fields. He was the youngest of five boys. His mother was a single mother, who despite facing many obstacles as a migrant farmworker, always stressed the importance of getting an education. Check out my recent phone interview with Daniel.
Could you tell me a little bit about your background?
I was born in Winter Haven, a city in Polk County, Florida. I was part of a migrant farmworker family. I recall spending seasons in North Carolina, Georgia, and Michigan. At the age of 19, I started my own family. I enrolled my firstborn in the Head Start Program offered through Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA) in 2002. My second and third child also attended RCMA. As a migrant farmworker parent, I was very involved in my children’s education. I was elected as the center’s President of the Parent Committee. I also served on the Board of Directors for three full terms. At the time, RCMA was a delegate agency of East Coast Migrant Head Start Project, and I participated as the Treasurer for its Policy Council. In 2005, I stopped migrating for work. RCMA offered me a position as an Outreach Worker in Polk County. The following season, I became a Center Coordinator for RCMA’S before and after school programs, serving more than 140 children that season alone. After four years of being at RCMA, I decided to continue my career at the ECMHSP La Familia Center as Center Director in October 2009.
I know you’re currently enrolled in college. Can you tell me more about the degree you’re pursuing?
In 2013, I graduated with my Associate in Science degree from Polk State’s Early Childhood Education and Management program. Next year I will be getting my Bachelor’s in Business Management from Polk State College. I want my kids to know how important education is. I have five kids ranging in the ages of 18 and three. Two of them will be graduating high school next year and are already looking into what college programs they want to pursue.
The ECMHSP La Familia Center opened for the season on Thursday, November 15.
What is the most exciting part of opening the center?
You must have a passion for children and their families. My greatest thing is working with the ECMHSP La Familia Center staff and getting them ready to provide the best services for our children. I enjoy seeing staff that start with a high school degree, then obtain a CDA, and work hard to get an Associate Degree. Although every season includes different obstacles, I’m always hopeful that we’ll have a successful season. All our staff from last season have returned, which is very exciting.
How do you maintain strong relationships with parents?
Always making our families feel welcomed at our center. I want them to feel that it’s a good place to be. I always take the time to present myself to our new families. I tell them about the policies and procedures that we all follow.
What countries are primarily represented by your center’s farmworker families?
Most of our families are from Guatemala and Mexico. Last season, we served 11 kids from Puerto Rico that were part of displaced families from Hurricane Maria. Two kids are back this season.
The GFWC Four Corners Junior Woman’s Club visits our ECMHSP La Familia Center.
What are the center’s community partnerships?
We have community partnerships with Community of Faith, Catholic Charities of Winter Haven, Helping Hands Angels, The Veterans of Davenport, and the GFWC Four Corners Junior Woman’s Club. During the last few years, the GFWC Four Corners Junior Woman’s Club has been making a holiday donation of more than 100 stockings for the children at my center. I know our families look forward to their support next month.
Daniel Jaime, Center Director at the ECMHSP La Familia Center, recently attended the NACMH biannual meeting on November 14, 2018.
Daniel Jaime is one of our most active staff members. Not only does he support other centers with training as needed, but he also serves as a Council Member on the National Advisory Council on Migrant Health (NACMH), which has 16 members nationwide. He was nominated to the NACMH when he was a Board of Director for the Central Florida Health Care. Last week, I had the opportunity to meet Daniel in Bethesda, Maryland for NACMH’s biannual meeting. The Council heard presentations from federal officials and experts on issues facing agricultural workers, including the status of agricultural worker health. The NACMH will now make its recommendations to the HHS Secretary about the organization, operation, selection, and funding of migrant health centers and other entities funded under section 330(g) of the PHS Act.