Migrant Health Centers
Photo by David Bacon
For 50 years, the nation's network of migrant health centers has been charged with providing comprehensive primary and preventive health care to migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families. Farmworker Justice offers training and technical assistance to migrant health centers on federal policy issues impacting the health of our nation’s farmworkers and their families, including immigration and occupational safety and health. In partnership with community organizations and legal services providers, We work with migrant health centers to improve farmworker access to healthcare. Additionally, we review important developments in policy and research on migrant and farmworker health and disseminate it broadly to health centers.
Migrant health centers provide comprehensive primary and preventative health care to migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families. They offer services on a sliding fee scale to patients regardless of their immigration status. The centers are administered by the Office of Special Population Health within the Bureau of Primary Health Care at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
Currently, there are 165 migrant health centers nationwide. These centers receive federal grants under Section 330 (g) of the Public Health Services Act, which partially cover the cost of their services. In a small number of regions that lack the concentration of migrant needed to support a bricks-and-mortar health center, “voucher” programs have been established, which enable farmworkers and their families to receive services from a participating network of health care providers.
According to the 2005 National Agricultural Worker Survey, only 22% of farmworkers reported that they or their family are covered by private health insurance or Medicaid. Since most farmworkers are poor, with an average annual family income between $12,500 and $14,499, some workers go without medical care even when they need it. Migrant health centers fill an important unmet need for health services for farmworkers and their families.
To be eligible for services, an individual must have been principally employed in agriculture for the previous 24 months. Agriculture is defined as all activities involved with planting, harvesting or processing crops, but does not include work with livestock. Family members of qualified agricultural workers are also eligible to receive services. Approximately 863,000 migrant or seasonal farmworkers and their family members received care at migrant health centers in 2010.
To locate a community or migrant health center in your area, visit the health center search page at one of the following websites:
U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
Migrant Clinicians Network (MCN)
National Center for Farmworker Health (NCFH)
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), a bureau of the Department of Health and Human Services, works with six national organizations that provide training and technical assistance to migrant health centers. These organizations specialize in health issues specific to migrant farmworkers. As part of the Farmworker Health Network (FHN), Farmworker Justice provide training and technical assistance to migrant health centers on issues related to occupational and environmental health as well as immigration and healthcare policy developments affecting farmworkers. Our services include:
- Providing training and individualized consultations to clinicians, outreach workers, and promotores de salud (community health workers);
- Developing curricula, evaluation tools, and patient education materials;
- Conducting advocacy and responding to inquiries on health, immigration and other federal policies affecting farmworkers or migrant health centers;
- Writing reports, articles, fact sheets and issue briefs; and
- Developing and disseminating research through our quarterly Eye on Farmworker Health
Together, the FHN published the Farmworker Health Network: Key Resources for Migrant Health (pdf). The other members of the Farmworker Health Network are:
Migrant Clinicians Network (MCN) is the oldest and largest clinical network serving underserved migrant populations. It provides technical assistance to migrant health centers, including on-site and online training, individualized consultations and aids with the development of culturally appropriate materials concerning: recruitment and retention of health center staff; clinical issues; developing clinical leadership; bridge case management; and referrals (through its networks such as Track II on diabetes); continuing professional education; peer networking for clinicians, patient education and other clinical resources. It also publishes the Streamline newsletter.
Migrant Health Promotion works to strengthen the capacity of farmworker families and communities to improve their health, using peer education and advocacy. Its technical assistance focuses on the development and implementation of its Camp Health Aide and other promotores de salud programs; the development of culturally appropriate training curricula, evaluation tools, patient education and other health education materials, identification of funding opportunities among program managers, and promotores, and the dissemination of a promotor(a) newsletter.
Health Outreach Partners (formerly Farmworker Health Services, Inc) focuses primarily on the development and support of health outreach and enabling services programs; creating health education and prevention materials; promoting cultural competency, and collecting health data on outcome measures, etc.
National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) promotes the provision of high-quality, comprehensive health care that is accessible, coordinated, culturally and linguistically competent, and community-directed for all underserved populations. Its training and technical assistance services focus on: Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) funding initiatives; health center governance and financial operations; educating new medical directors, etc. It also sponsors an annual national migrant health conference; administers a migrant health list-serve and e-mail distribution group; monitors and recommends policies affecting migrant health centers or their patients; facilitates recruitment and retention of health center staff; develops clinical protocols and tools; and offers accreditation for clinical continuing education.
Finally, the National Center for Farmworker Health (NCFH) offers technical assistance on: leadership development and training; migrant-specific and bilingual on-site consultations; development and dissemination of research; training and patient education materials; maintenance of current and archival library and multi-media resource center; network development and expansion; facilitating navigation of the public health system and securing care in exceptional circumstances via the Call for Health system; health center governance and management; and recruitment and retention of health center staff.