The Bergen County Council for Young Children ("BCCYC") held its first two Parent Cafés with the purpose of creating a community forum for parents to discuss the needs of children and families from prenatal stages through eight years of age.
BCCYC Parent Cafés
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The events were hosted and moderated by Jennifer Loaiza, the Care Plus NJ, Inc. ("CarePlus") Project Coordinator for BCCYC, with the support of community partners including the Family Support Organization of Bergen County, the Bergen County Office for Children, and Bergen County Headstart.
"I cannot thank our community partners enough," expressed Loaiza, "Without their help and support, the Parent Cafés and the Kick Off Event would not have been a success! It is our collective efforts that best serve the community."
There were numerous families that attended both Parent Cafés, during which the children that accompanied their parents played games, socialized, and worked on puzzles and coloring books. The parents were invited into a separate space to address their concerns and explore the needs in the local community.
Some of the topics that were explored during the Parent Cafés included health, education, and the many dimensions of their children's overall well-being. The parent groups also participated in team building activities to create a stronger sense of connection with each other.
The goal of the program is not only to connect families with local resources, but also to establish a supportive group of parent advocates who will act as active community partners. By creating a sense of comradery amongst the BCCYC, the vision is that Bergen County will become stronger and more successful through the input of parents, caregivers, guardians, and other community members.
"It is so gratifying to see the families and community partners sit together to learn about available resources in Bergen County," Loaiza continued. "I think the biggest take away was knowing that the parents were satisfied, and surprised, by the abundance of what is offered in our county."
The event organizers reported that the success of the event was a good indication of developments to come as the BCCYC continues to expand their reach into local communities.
The next Parent Café will be held with a "Frozen" winter theme on December 3rd from 6pm-7:30pm at the Arc of Bergen and Passaic Counties in Elmwood Park . As always, is a family event where children are welcome to attend. Childcare and dinner will be provided.
It has been requested that all interested families RSVP by December 1st to Jennifer Loaiza, Project Coordinator, by phone at 201-265-8200 ext. 5286, or by email at JenniferLo@CarePlusNJ.org
. Any families that would like to inquire how to bring a future Parent Café and resources to their local community may also contact Loaiza.