Migrant Education, Sheriff’s Department Partner to Educate Parents

Migratory farmworkers and their families contribute economically, socially, and culturally to their communities. However, the life of migratory farmworkers can be tough, and it can bring a lot of hardships. Moving often can make it difficult to plant roots and build a sense of community. It can also make relations between migratory workers and law enforcement tenuous. Workers may be wary for myriad reasons, and law enforcement may have preconceived notions of migratory workers.

To help educate parents and build better relationships between migratory families and law enforcement, SDCOE’s Migrant Education department has collaborated with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and their community inclusion director to develop and present a series of parent education classes.

The Sheriff’s Spanish Academy is a six-week program with in-person sessions in Vista or Fallbrook and a virtual option. The program is designed specifically for families who are part of the Migrant Education Program (MEP). MEP and the Sheriff’s Department have conducted the series three times, beginning in January 2021. The most recent series completed in the fall of 2022 and focused on various topics, including what to expect when calling 911, understanding your rights, immigration, human trafficking, cybercrimes, and career opportunities.

“These are unique opportunities because our Migrant Education parents get a say in what topics they want to learn about,” explained Migrant Education Senior Director Elisa Ayala, “It’s also a great casual interaction between our MEP parents and law enforcement, giving each other time to interact and build a positive relationship in a safe environment where our team is there to support them.”

The program is mutually beneficial. As they cross language and cultural barriers, families can learn about Sheriff’s Department initiatives, and the Sheriff’s Department can learn from migratory families. Families and adolescents can also be exposed to the wide variety of jobs in law enforcement, including those beyond being a sworn deputy.

Recognizing the collaboration and benefits, the Migrant Education team and San Diego County Sheriff’s Department were recently awarded the Diversity and Inclusion Excellence Award by the County of San Diego in recognition of their collaboration.

The award was presented to the team during the County of San Diego Chief Administrative Officer’s Leadership meeting in December for their work to provide parent education in the underserved communities of Latinx and migratory farmworking populations.

“We are very grateful for and honored by the award,” adds Ayala. “Building partnerships with community and civic organizations helps us build a stronger region and brighter future with more opportunities for all of us.”

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