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Mapping Youth Supports: A Systematic Appraisal of Services in the Mid-Hudson Valley

Mon, April 16, 4:05 to 6:05pm, Millennium Broadway New York Times Square, Floor: Fourth Floor, Room 4.11



In New York’s Hudson Valley region, sprawling farms and rolling hills are interspersed with small towns and the occasional big-box shopping center. This place is home to migrant agricultural workers and their families, who live here seasonally as they relocate to follow work opportunities. Hudson Valley Photovoice is part of a five-year participatory action research project that explores the significance of place to migrant undocumented young people, in the context of their post-secondary decision-making. The research team applies a critical place inquiry framework in a rural region that seems far removed from the metropolis two hours to the east. Indigenous theorizations of place underpin the project, considering place as “defined not merely by a physical location but also by a sense of belonging to that place and by the practices that shape people’s livelihoods, social relationships, and identity” (Kermoal & Altamirano-Jiménez, 2015).

Method and Data

The most recent year of the project (year three) involved a focus group with service providers who provide support to young people in the Hudson Valley and their families, from academic tutoring, to healthcare, to legal advice. Activities undertaken in the focus group included interviews, group discussions, and a systematic appraisal to map services in the area, in order to get a felt sense of the experience of accessing supports in this sprawling region. Mapping was employed as a form of spatial decolonization, drawing on Indigenous feminist scholar Mishuana Goeman (2013).

Through systematic networking in consultation with service providers, the research team gleaned insights as to how relationships to place and land are formed by migrant families, amidst the power relations imposed by the settler state. The systematic appraisal aimed to map and locate any organizations, networks, programs or clinics that support rural migrant education in New York State — specifically, outside New York City, Buffalo and Albany, and within smaller towns and regions where migrant workers and their families live and move between for work. The perspective of service workers is valuable because of their understanding of the specific life situations of the migrant youth with whom they work, and also the systemic and institutional challenges faced by service providers as they try to facilitate youth’s access to education in New York State.

Results and Significance

Results from the systematic appraisal point to the significance of place in these families’ lives and the challenges associated with a rural geography and limited transportation options. Service provider interviews and discussion contributions gestured toward the idea that migrant youth and families’ relationships to place are fraught due to the challenges they tackle in their lives: accessing work and school and the necessary supports, in a region with committed and dedicated service providers who are spread out geographically.