Caring for our children is at the forefront of families’ minds, but demanding work schedules and restricting finances often limits the options for childcare. Typically parents are left with the unfortunate choices of low-quality care, taking financial losses in order to stay at home and care for a child themselves, or leaving the child home alone.
Fortunately services such as the Migrant Childcare Alternative Program (MCAP) exist specifically to help the children of low-income families that work in seasonal agriculture. Through the Community Action Partnership of Kern, the state funded program provides subsidy services for agricultural working families to pay for the cost of childcare.
The Migrant Childcare Program’s mission is to ensure that all children have the benefit of learning in a safe environment offered by quality childcare providers. MCAP is not a childcare center, rather a service program that assists families in choosing and paying for a care provider.
MCAP is sensitive to that fact that not every childcare provider is appropriate for the varying needs of migrants families. This program is unique and ideal in that it gives parents the option to choose a provider that is the right fit for them, whether in a traditional daycare center or in your own home under the care of a family member. Parents have the availability of several childcare options, including the following:
- Licensed Childcare Center, Nursery School or Preschool
- Licensed Family Childcare Home
- License-Exempt Provider – A Relative
- License-Exempt Provider
- In-Home care
Given the generosity of this program, it is intended for the very specific, low-income, migrant worker population. To qualify for MCAP parents must earn at least fifty percent (50%) of their total income from fishing, agriculture or agricultural related work.
The family must migrate at least once every 12 months for agricultural work purposes. Those who migrate must maintain a temporary residence for at least 30 days. The distance between the old and new residence must be at least 75 miles.
Children eligible for childcare are those between the age of 0 and 12 and have a need for childcare.
Areas of Service
The Migrant Childcare Alternative Program offers its subsidy program to families that reside in six California counties: Kern, Tulare, Kings, Fresno, Madera and Merced. A popular component of the MCAP is that once a family is accepted into the program, they can continue services anywhere in the state.
Families hesitant to apply because of their legal status and pending paper work should not be concerned with the legal effects of program enrollment. The information MCAP collects is that on the children only. Children are not required to be born in the United States to qualify for the program.
For further information on qualification requirements and the application process please contact MCAP at 1-800-259-8866 (available in both English and Spanish). The MCAP regional office and mailing address is 1400 S. Union Ave Suite 130, Bakersfield, CA 93307.