The Community and Family Engagement (CAFE) Program is making strides to keep families connected to their schools and district.
“The purpose of CAFE is to make sure that our families and schools are supported and working together for the success of our students,” said Yaneth Alfaro, who was hired in May to oversee the program as CAFE manager. “By working together, we strengthen the quality of life for all of our families.”
The CAFE program was expanded in 2020 during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic with a team of 12 specialists. Specialists are assigned to various schools and work directly with principals, teachers, and staff to assist all families facing obstacles in their child's education. They connect families with resources, answer questions, and serve as liaisons between families and school staff.
“The role of a CAFE Specialist is to maintain open communication between families and schools to ensure families feel their voices are heard,” said Alfaro, who was also one of the original 12 specialists. “We know good communication between home, school, and our district is such a vital part of every child’s academic success. CAFE Specialists listen to parents' concerns and partner with them to make sure their situation, question, or point of view is expressed and understood. Specialists help and support parents if they need to find ways to resolve any issues that may be negatively impacting their child's success in school. By approaching a problem at a root level, we can ensure that children continue their education with no obstacles and are set up for success.”
Alfaro, who graduated from Pioneer High School and earned a BA in social work from Sacramento State, said she has seen the program evolve since it expanded in 2020.
“At first, everything was virtual,” Alfaro said. “So having that interaction and connection with families was extremely hard through a screen. Now that we are transitioning more to ‘normality’ I want the CAFE Program to be more known. Many families still don't know that they have a specialist at their school sites they could go to with any questions or concerns. I want families to feel comfortable coming and speaking to their specialists and to increase parent participation at their children’s school sites.”
Alfaro said her experience attending Woodland schools and being a first-generation daughter of immigrants has helped her make connections with families through the CAFE program.
“I love that many parents have told me that they see their kids reflected in me,” she said. “They know that if I was able to make it this far in my career despite so many obstacles, so can their children. The simple fact that there is someone that speaks the same language as they do, who they can openly share their questions, worries, or frustration with, makes them feel heard and appreciated.”