Methods: To implement the Parent Cafés, PACT-STL hosted a training by Be Strong Families for community-based organization partners and parent leaders. The partners were trained to host cafés and ensure fidelity and sustainability. The parents were trained to take on leadership roles within the cafés. Partnering organizations recruit families from targeted zip codes by community outreach, flyers at community events and word of mouth. Parent cafes were delivered in a series of three sessions to introduce parents to the five protective factors based on the Strengthening Families Approach and Protective Factors Framework. Over the course of 13 months (December 2020 through November 2021), approximately 12 parent cafés were held by VCR. The average number of attendees at the Parent Café sessions was 20 participants. Feedback from parents were gathered after each session using a participant satisfaction survey and the retrospective Protective Factors Survey-2. Together the forms provided details of the parents’ beliefs and attitudes of the session topics and their perceptions of how each session met their expectations and needs.
Findings: Overall, parents enjoyed their experience of the cafés, finding value in participating and viewing the cafés as a way to enhance trust. On the Parent Café satisfaction form, on average 96.6% of respondents strongly agreed/agreed that they wanted to get more involved with the host agency as a result of their Café experience. In addition, on average 92.7% of respondents strongly agreed/agreed that they see themselves being able and willing to be a part of a Parent Café team. Furthermore, 98.7% of respondents strongly agreed/agreed that they felt safe sharing with other participants in the Café. On the open-ended questions, respondents at each café wrote in a response identifying “how amazing” the café experience was.
Conclusion/Implications: By centering parents' voices and giving parents leadership roles, this aspect of PACT STL removes barriers and inequities and emphasizes parent-engaged solution building. The use of Parent Cafes in the multi-level participatory framework developed by PACT-STL creates relationship-building opportunities with families that are intentional and inform service providers of caregiver needs.