Equality and Health
- Medical & Social Security
- Daycare & Food Stamps
- Health Care Access
Extreme poverty, constant mobility, language differences, and lack of transportation make it difficult for farmworkers to have regular access to health care.
In a 2005 study, only 42 percent of migrant and seasonal farmworker women reported accessing prenatal care services early on in their pregnancy (within the first three months). Compare this with the 76 percent of women who access early prenatal care nationally. Another study found that, according to their caretakers, 53% of farmworker children had an unmet medical need. This is twenty-four times higher than the number reported for U.S. children overall.
Pesticide exposure commonly occurs in children via the take-home pathway. Parents working with pesticides often carry contaminated clothes, shoes, and hats. The contamination then reaches children via household dust found in cars and common living areas. In one study, almost all children (88%) whose parents worked with pesticides tested positive for pesticide metabolites in their system.
Children of farmworker families are exposed to the harsh and unstable environment of migrant work: 85 percent of farmworker housing units are typically over-crowded; high levels of anxiety, depression, and suicidal attempts are commonly present in women; and overwhelming occurrences of farm injuries in both adults and children have been documented.
Migrant Legal Aid has been there to help assist families with pesticide exposure, to review and negotiate medical bills, to get guardianship for minors in need of medical attention, to assist in reporting exposures and working with authorities to reduce incidents, and to assist families with regard to their Medicaid eligibility. Our advocates help connect farmworkers with medical and financial resources for injuries sustained on the job, during transportation, or by other means. This helps families maintain their income for other basic needs like food, shelter, and clothing.