We wound up tracing their kids to another town probably 60 or 80 miles away where the kids had been put in foster care. We had to jump through a ton of red tape but we got the kids released that night and drove the parents up there to get their kids that night.
The moral of the story is two points. One, things are might nasty for Hispanics on highways right now. And two, people who have had their kids with us, come to us for help.
11:27 a.m. Karst: What is your relationship like with the industry?
11:28 a.m. Coats: we have to stay in touch with the industry to adequately run our child care centers, because the migrant head start centers open and close according to the rhythms of the season. So when we project how many staff we have to hire and what date will be the opening date for the tomato growing areas it is based on information and projections form the tomato people.
All of our fund raising has agriculture at the heart of it. This last year, there was a big silent auction at the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association state wide convention and all the proceeds went to us.
We have an annual golf tournament that raised $80,000 and a lot of golfers are from ag companies. Gary Wishnatzki of Wishnatzki Farms stages a tennis tournament and that raised about $80,000 for us. Our relationship with agriculture is second in importance only to our relationships with our children’s families.
11:08 a.m. Karst: If you could wave a wand and do magic, what would be a couple of things you would like to see happen relating to your work in the next two years?
11:09 a.m. Coats: Comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship. A lot of the miseries that our children experience are rooted one way or another in the fact that their parents have to lead these contorted lives. They can’t get driver’s licenses, they can’t work above board, et cetera, et cetera. I guess the second thing might be a greater public appreciation for early childhood education. There is tremendous attention paid to the state of the nation’s k-12 schools, but 90% of a child brain development occurs before age 5. Early childhood education should be higher on society’s list of priorities.