The Fernando Pro Child Development Center
Beginning in the 1970s cherished community activist Fernando ‘Chappy’ Pro time and again bridged the gap between workers in south Miami-Dade fields and local government. His clear voice called out for structural changes in agriculture — not just improved services for farm laborers. His hours volunteered as friend and mentor, speaking out in public forums and as a board member over the course of 40 years are countless. In 2004, Rural Neighborhoods dedicated the Fernando Pro Child Development Center in his honor. Patterned after a child’s scattered toy blocks, the newly constructed center is nationally accredited and licensed to serve 176 infants and toddlers.
Migrant Head Start
In 1965 impoverished farm laborers in south Florida had no alternative but to take their infants and toddlers into the fields. Several children died from machinery accidents and drowning; others were exposed to sun, pesticides, insects and snakes on a daily basis. Mennonite volunteers and activist Wendell Rollason began Redland Christian Migrant Association that year employing a unique childcare model: train immigrant mothers as caregivers. Young children accessed early childhood education. Mothers no longer found themselves isolated in the fields but in new childcare careers. Nearly 50 years later RCMA continues to provide the highest quality childcare for children of migrant farm workers and rural low-income families. It is the largest nonprofit childcare provider in Florida and a national leader in early childhood education.