Dr. Nadine Burke Harris and Parent Cafés in California


As the creators of the Parent Cafés, Be Strong Families is excited to announce that the California Department of Education recently added “expanding parental knowledge of child development through Parent Cafés” as one of the top strategies under their nearly $11 million federal Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B—5), previously announced on January 16, 2019. This announcement follows the inauguration of Dr. Nadine Burke Harris as California’s first Surgeon General. We are longtime admirers of Dr. Burke Harris’s work, including her 2015 TED Talk, “How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime.” During the first stop on her statewide listening tour on April 2nd, Dr. Burke Harris reaffirmed her commitment to raising “awareness that Adverse Childhood Experiences, like emotional abuse or witnessing domestic violence, can increase the risk of major health problems like asthma, diabetes and heart disease.”1 We wholeheartedly concur with her conclusion that “adversity is not destiny… early intervention improves outcomes”2 and are enthusiastic to continue building on our work in California and supporting local agencies efforts to launch and strengthen Parent Café efforts.

Since shortly after our founding as a national organization in 2012, Be Strong Families has had a presence in California. We have worked with the First 5 Commissions of Los Angeles (Best Start Communities), San Francisco, Alameda County, and Shasta County, Friends of the Family (Los Angeles), San Mateo County Office of Education, A Better Way, Inc. (Berkeley), El Nido Family Centers (Los Angeles), Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, Valley Oak Children’s Services through California Race to the Top, Community Action Partnerships of San Luis Obispo County, West Ed, and Foothill Family Services. For the past three years, we have staffed a regional office in Pasadena, collocated with Pasadena / Altadena Coalition of Transformative Leaders as part of our long-term relationship and commitment to partnership with grassroots organizations committed to parent leadership and transformative change. Six of our seventeen board members live in California, including Dr. Sandy Baba, who developed and launched Chinese Parent Cafés in partnership with Kai Ming Head Start and the JoyLok Family Resource Center, funded in part by First 5 San Francisco.

We are currently building on our work in California through expansion of our Certified Training Partners and Regional Parent Engagement Advisory Groups. Our Certified Training Partners are regional agencies that have completed a Training of Trainer process on our Parent Café Training Institute and have made an organizational commitment to remaining in partnership with Be Strong Families. We have begun relationships with both Merced County Office of Education / Head Start to become a Certified Training Partners and with the Santa Clara County Department of Children and Family Services to embed the Strengthening Families Protective Factors and Parent Cafés in their array of services. Be Strong Families Regional Parent Engagement Advisory Groups (RPEAs) are groups of parents who have come together through shared enthusiasm for improving their own lives, the lives of their children, and the strength of their families and communities. They embrace the Strengthening Families Protective Factors, are part of Be Strong Families’ Cafe Community of Practice, and use Parent Cafés as one of the ways they strengthen families and communities. Each RPEA is represented by a seat on the Be Strong Families board of directors. RPEA members are engaged by Be Strong Families as part-time consultants to support ongoing Cafés and to share Cafés in communities throughout their regions. In California, Be Strong Families works in partnership with Consejo de Padres en Acción, a group of parent leaders who came together out of Be Strong Families’ partnership with Los Angeles-based Friends of the Family Best Start Panorama City and Neighbors Building Stronger Families Initiative.

If you are in California and seeking to apply for the PDG B—5 grant, or anywhere else in the country, and want to bring Parent Cafés into your continuum of services, contact us at info@bestrongfamilies.net.

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