Engaging Families through "Parent Cafés"
Just 40% of children in Louisville’s Portland neighborhood arrive at kindergarten ready to learn. This statistic isn’t okay with resident Mary Jolly, who wants kids in her neighborhood to have the same chance for a good quality of life as kids in other parts of our community.
That’s why Mary is part of an initiative with Metro United Way called “Parent Cafés” that helps families get their kids on track and prepared for kindergarten. Moms, dads and caregivers meet once a week for support, access to resources, and activities with their kids; they talk about parenting challenges while they share a meal together. Since the Portland Parent Café started, attendance has doubled!
“I know for me, parent support and having a peer group is really helpful, especially after the birth of my twins, which was life-changing,” says Mary. “I had a group of friends that met with me once a week. We ate, we talked, we discussed, we vented – whatever was going on with our children.”
An important tool to help parents track their child’s development from birth to kindergarten is the Ages & Stages (ASQ) Questionnaires program. By completing the ASQ series as their child ages, parents track their child’s development and help them learn and grow as much as possible during the crucial early years leading up to kindergarten. This program also offers confidential support and resources to help improve outcomes, especially for children who may be behind. The retention rate for Portland parents who are involved in the ASQ has also doubled – now at 85% – since the Parent Café began.