United Parents Cafés had a busy, exciting Spring!

Activity really ramped up for Parent Cafés this Spring. New locations and new participants came onboard, adding momentum to an already active program. We also were awarded a short-term contract from Milwaukee Public Schools to work with parents. A total of 14 Cafés were held in seven locations this Spring. These include Stellar Collegiate, our first bilingual Café and four other new locations. To accommodate all of this activity, 25 new Table Hosts were trained, more than doubling the number of hosts. Current Table Hosts received additional, ongoing training. Lloyd Barbee, Parents Cafés’ pilot school, demonstrated greater community involvement among parents by bringing over 26 people to the Delegates’ Assembly – their largest and most diverse turnout ever.

Jennifer O’Hear, CG Director of United Parents and United Parents Cafés, indicated that the team members need to catch their breath, reflect on what they’ve learned over the past year and then meet to build a plan for the upcoming school year. That team meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 19 from 7:00 to 8:30 at Mount Mary.

Parents Cafés are parental events designed to provide peer-to-peer learning and support for parents and grandparents as they face the challenges of being a parent today. In hundreds of meetings throughout the greater Milwaukee area, Common Ground has heard about the struggles of families overwhelmed by the stresses in their lives. Parents report feeling isolated and not knowing where to turn for help. Conversations with Milwaukee educators revealed a desire to engage parents and respectfully improve parenting skills because parental engagement leads to higher academic achievement and better behavior. Parents Cafés are designed to meet parents’ needs for support and stress reduction, enabling them to be more engaged parents and their children to be more successful students.

Cafés are based in a particular school or institution. There are no experts telling parents what they should or should not do. Cafés create a safe space for parents to share their experiences, concerns and hopes. Parents choose the topics they want to discuss. Conversations are held in small groups with Table Hosts trained by CG United Parents. Cafés also give parents an opportunity for deep self-reflection. Near the end of each Café parents write a personal commitment letter to themselves. Parents often report that they plan to listen to their children more, to spend more time with their children, or to take better care of themselves.

United Parents Cafés have three goals intended to strengthen families, their schools or institutions and their communities:

  • Build parenting skills and strengthen families
  • Help schools and other institutions engage parents in a meaningful and sustained manner
  • Develop parents as leaders in their families, institutions, communities – helping them come together to address common concerns.

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