Effective Partnerships With Parents:
What is a Community Cafe?
Community Cafés are a series of guided conversations based on the Strengthening Families Protective Factors Framework leadership development and parent partnership. These conversations are hosted by parent leaders who use the World Café technique to increase community wisdom, build parent voice and facilitate action to improve lives for children. It is a process that is designed, planned and implemented by parents, working with their community partners. Typical community partners include: early child care and education sites, neighborhood centers, community based family resource centers, schools, immigrant and refugee agencies, faith based organizations, health departments or any system or agency that touches the lives of families and children.
Prior to hosting Cafés, interested parents and community members attend an eight hour co-learning group orientation that invites participants to design a culturally relevant café that focuses on:
- Promoting the Strengthening Families Protective Factors that all families need to help their children thrive
- Gaining the leadership skills needed for transformative change
- Building and maintaining effective partnerships
Participants leave the orientation with their own interactive Conversation Kit and enough conversation material for six cafés. Most Cafés continue long after the six conversation topics are covered, as communities continue to utilize the Community Café approach to create the change they envision. Parents are also encouraged to mentor other parents to become hosts.
The basic steps needed to implement this process are outlined in the following section.
Steps for Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds and Other Organizations Interested in Implementing Community Cafes
STEP ONE: Think about your own leadership style. This first step is your own internal process for positive change, including personal habits, beliefs, attitudes and expectations. Here are some questions to get you started:
- Why is partnering with parents important to me?
- What are my own personal benefits?
- Where would I need the most support?
- Who do I know that could help me with this?
- What observable difference will this make for me personally?
- What observable difference will this make for my organization?
STEP TWO: Contact the Alliance with your interest in starting Community Cafés. After providing your contact information, you will receive a follow up either by e-mail or telephone call. Some typical topics discussed during the first telephone contact are:
- What distinguishes Community Cafés from other parent leadership opportunities?
- What resources are needed to host cafés?
- What type of ongoing support is typically asked for by parents and what is needed to begin hosting?
- What settings are most appropriate for Community Cafés?
- How could staff and parents integrate the core strategies of Community Cafés into the activities that they are already doing?
- How much money is needed to begin Community Cafes in my area?
STEP 3: Begin to build interest and to recruit potential teams.Teams are typically two parent leaders from a program or neighborhood and a staff person. Share your motives for wanting to explore starting Community Cafés with them. Begin to assess the team strengths, resources and commitment. If you do not know any parent leaders to talk to, ask a program person who works with parents to make the parent leader contacts for you. Often, program staff can easily identify parent leaders they have a trusting relationship with to discuss this new idea with you.
STEP 4: Schedule an orientation teleconference call. After you have at least two parent leaders who may be interested in hosting a café, an Alliance consultant can schedule a teleconference call with you. This call would serve to orient you, your Strengthening Families Leadership Team, interested parent leaders and anyone else you invite to get more details about Community Cafés; discuss your particular needs and goals; and outline a potential process for implementation based on the resources you have available. Parent leaders will also get an idea of the commitment they will need to make to host cafés.
STEP 5: Plan and implement an eight hour orientation. This will be a full day of conversation with more than 10 and up to 50 participants. The Alliance consultant will conduct pre-site visit planning for the orientation over the phone with parent leaders and post-visit technical assistance as needed and depending on the resources you have available for travel and parent leader support. They can also network the parents in your area with other parent mentors who are experienced in hosting Community Cafés.
This orientation has four co-learning goals:
- Develop a knowledge base for the Strengthening Families Protective Factors, effective leadership and building and maintaining partnerships
- Develop a knowledge base for the core principles and strategies of Community Cafés
- Learn how to apply this knowledge base regarding Community Cafés
- Design a Community Café approach that is relevant to the culture of your community
For more information on Community Cafes or to find a Community Cafe near you
Please contact us at email@example.com
Host Orientation guide
All participants who attend an orientation will receive an interactive kit that includes visuals for conversation, design tools, evaluation tools, sample invitations, handouts, poetry and a sample proposal for grant writing.
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NEW!!!! Spanish Host-Orientation Guide
English Host-Orientation Guide
Community Cafe Guide for Hosts: Changing the Lives of Children Through Conversations that Matter
This guide is intended to accompany a full-day orientation to the Community Café approach and includes a description of a typical planning process along with a tool for each step of the way.
Guide to Forming a Community Café Leadership Team
This guide encourages the development of new leadership teams across the country to support Community Café best practice. The Community Café Leadership Team (CCLT) journey started in Olympia, WA, with two parents who wanted to help their local prevention board build relationships with communities and parents from marginalized neighborhoods. In a short time, the leadership team grew, tools were developed and a partnership with the Alliance was established to share the approach with state children’s trust funds. This guide defines what a leadership team can be and describes possible roles and purposes, based on the WA State leadership team’s journey. It describes tools and resources that will help others interested in forming leadership teams to support Community Cafés.
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