Parent Cafés bring community and support to Head Start families

The Community Action Council is on a mission to make life better for all, and their Parent Café program is doing just that!

This family-focused and parent-led initiative is all about boosting family resilience and communication through “protective factors” like support, knowledge, and relationships. Using evidence-based strategies, Parent Cafés are helping children avoid tough childhood experiences and tackle mental and behavioral health issues.

Parent Cafés are parent-led sessions with support from trained professionals. The Council’s Head Start programs’ family and community engagement team were trained through Be Strong Families to host Parent Cafés, and sessions can include discussions of family issues, family experiences, and concerns. Staff support parents, enabling them to give their ideas and thoughts on building their families’ strengths.

The cafés connect parents across all 15 counties we serve through the common bond of supportive parenting. The sessions are all virtual, so everyone can easily join in and share their insights. The Council’s Head Start programs have been eagerly embracing Parent Cafés, with nearly 90 parents finding connections to their peers since its inception.

Laura Landrum, Family Engagement Specialist, was charged with implementing Parent Cafés. She says her favorite part is “connecting with our Head Start parents and learning with, and from, them about the journey of parenting.” She’s seen firsthand how Parent Cafés build a supportive community that helps everyone become better leaders and advocates for their families.

“Parent Cafés allow us to truly build a Head Start community to support one another and develop our parents as leaders and advocates for their families,” Laura said. “I have learned that parents can support each other and their families when given an outlet to express and advocate for themselves.”

Head Start parent Hope Burton has been involved in Parent Cafés for several years. It is because of the Parent Cafés and the way that they bring families together to share their experiences and challenges that she continues to participate in the program. “I honestly love that the cafes make me feel as if I’m not alone,” she said. “There are other parents out there who have some of the same things going on like myself.”

Hope is able to connect with other parents who are going through similar experiences, and she’s seen real improvement in her family relationships thanks to better communication and understanding of her children’s needs. Because of her experience with the program, Hope said she is “able to better help other parents out there who may not be able” to attend the Parent Cafés themselves.

At the heart of the Head Start program is the mission to serve families and improve their lives, and through Parent Cafés, that mission is achieved.

If you are a Head Start parent interested in attending the Parent Café, simply contact Kesha Richardson at 859-233-4600, or contact your family staff or home visitor for more information.

Laura Landrum was deeply dedicated to family and community services both in her work and in her personal life. Her passing in September of 2023 was a significant loss to the community and the agency. As we continue to mourn her loss, we celebrate her life and the investment she made daily in bettering the lives of others.

To learn more about the importance of parent engagement, check out the episode of our Look Who’s Talking podcast where we discuss fatherhood.

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