Maria Fátima Castro Honored with 2016 Plate of Bounty Award from the National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association

The Plate of Bounty Award was bestowed on Maria Fátima Castro by the National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association at the 2016 Annual Conference held in Tysons Corner, Virginia. The Plate of Bounty Award acknowledges an individual who has made significant contributions to migrant and seasonal farm worker families, and is given once every two years.

four adults on standing next to each otherMaria Fátima Castro is the Manager of Migrant/Seasonal Head Start at the Santa Cruz County Office of Education. Central California Migrant/Seasonal Head Start is a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) between the County Offices of Education of Stanislaus, Merced and Santa Cruz, that together with the Parent Policy Council governs the program.


Maria Castro began her career with the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Program in the mid 1980’s as a Child Development Associate (CDA) Advisor. She established a network of Spanish-speaking family childcare providers in Santa Cruz County and worked with local agencies to solicit recognition and support for the Family Child Care Home model.

Her efforts today as a Migrant/Seasonal Program Manager for Central California Migrant/Seasonal Head Start include a number of priorities that positively impact the ECE field and specifically the Migrant Head Start world. She trains providers, teachers and parents on a variety of topics (literacy, mathematics, dual language learners), she supports various cohorts of providers and teachers who are obtaining their Child Development Associate permits, and advocates in the community for migrant children and families.Her work training family child care providers motivated her to return to school and obtain her Master of Arts in Education from the University of California at Santa Cruz, so that she could teach Early Childhood Education classes at the local community college. She was instrumental in establishing a series of ECE classes taught in Spanish which allowed Spanish speaking providers and teachers to obtain their teaching permits. Many in these early cohorts of college students were former farmworkers.

Maria’s accomplishments during her 20 plus years of dedication and service to the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Program have touched upon many areas of the program including: Policy Council support, Family Child Care Home (FCCH) curriculum, professional development for staff and community advocacy for migrant children and families to name a few.

Family Child Care

Maria has made significant contributions to enhancing the Family Child Care Home delivery system on a local level as well as at a national level. Locally she trains, supports and monitors Migrant and Seasonal Family Child Care Home providers primarily in Santa Cruz County. Maria has helped to develop high quality services in a family child care setting by providing frequent professional development opportunities to monolingual Spanish speaking providers through Saturday and evening workshops, college courses at Cabrillo College, advising CDA candidates and initiating the Raise a Reader Reading Program in FCCH. In addition, she established the first Spanish speaking Family Child Care Association in Santa Cruz County. It was the first time FCCH Providers gathered together to form a professional association to discuss pertinent topics related to their careers. The Association continues to thrive today.

At a national level Maria has served on numerous focus groups for the Office of Head Start, provided feedback for Family Child Care Home guidelines and has served as a trainer at various National Conferences. She is a mainstay at the National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Child Care forums held through the National Training Center. She is also a bilingual trainer for Teaching Strategies and her services are called upon throughout the United States. She is known as a national expert in delivering Migrant and Seasonal Head Start services in a Family Child Care Home setting.

Direct Services: Child Care

Maria directly provides oversight to 175 Migrant and Seasonal Head Start children in Santa Cruz County as well as various trainings to the delegate agency within the county that serves another 800 children. She is instrumental at the Grantee level in developing program implementation plans, and technical guidance especially as they relate to Family Child Care Homes.

Staff Development

She presently serves as an adjunct faculty member at Cabrillo College, working in the Early Childhood Department to facilitate Migrant Head Start Providers and staff in navigating the college world. She has served as the role model and principal supporter for hundreds of women as they forge forward toward their educational goals and enter into the professional field of Early Childhood Education. She possesses that rare talent for engaging students, imparting critical information, and making it fun thus resulting in providing high quality Head Start teaching, classrooms and services.

Her years of dedication and enthusiastic service to the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start programs are a result of her passion for learning and teaching.She represented the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Program as a member of the California First Five Commission of Santa Cruz County and served on the Childhood Advisory Council of Santa Cruz County. She was bestowed the Santa Cruz Women’s Commission Award and the Council’s Vision & Voice Award in 2013.

Congratulations to Maria!