The Certificate of Eligibility trainings have been equally informative and entertaining as we have been able as a Recruiting and Identification team to get a bird’s eye view of the work that we are doing. Sometimes we are either too informative or not informative enough. Those are simple to note and work to not repeat in the future. However, we are thankful for the help in seeing those issues because they are not always as obvious to us as they are to an outside observation. Furthermore, the time that we take to discuss our questions and items of concern is paramount to the work we do. Some families that we have are not difficult to determine eligibility, but due to their extreme mobility and their particular qualifying activities, the reporting on the COE can be tricky to express succinctly. ESCORT helps us tremendously to figure out exactly how we need to report those cases so that the wording is more fluid and, of course, correctly done so there is no question in the future qualify of our work.
The OME guidelines, the Blue Bible of ID&R, is straight forward on 98% of qualifying activities that we encounter on a given day or season. The worker either plants the product, harvests the product or processes the product. That is very clear. What is not clear are products and activities that are not mentioned. In the last three years I have only had one or two of those including sheep- slaughtering or watermelon-sorting, onion-packing, tulip-packaging, and, my favorite “Hemp -Harvesting.” Now that last one was a laugh riot to talk about at the beginning in the conference call, but, after all, the ESCORT staff handled it with professional poise and grace in the way that I have only ever known them to handle it. And our questions were answered as well as those of other states where that harvesting is beginning to occur more frequently now. I found out that day there is no question too wild or crazy when determining whether an activity qualifies or not. Our world is ever changing in agricultural production, and I am relieved to know that we have the Qualifying Activities gurus to help us out when we needed to understand how we report the activities and determine eligibility when it is not so obvious in black and white. I am thankful for all they do for us at ESCORT. Thank you, Margot and Matt.
Mississippi Migrant Education Service Center