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Parent Mentors Use C.A.F.E.s to Improve Outcomes for Students with Disabilities

Recognizing the important role that stakeholders have in improving outcomes for students with disabilities at home, at school, and in the community, the Georgia Parent Mentor Partnership began to bring together collaborative teams to focus on educational issues that impact student achievement, graduation, and post-school outcomes.  These teams, which became known as C.A.F.E.s, (Circle of Adults Focusing on Education), provide a structure to engage parents, educators, and community partners in sharing their experiences related to an identified issue in order to develop a shared understanding  and to work together to develop a solution to successfully address the issue.  The C.A.F.E. builds on the experiences, expertise, and resources of the parents as well as the school and community partners who are working together to solve a mutually agreed upon issue or problem. 

In order to support family members who have not typically been involved in the school improvement process and to guide the collaborative teams in their work, the Parent Mentor Partnership has developed Georgia C.A.F.E. DIALOGUES .  These guides are based on the dialogue process developed by the national IDEA Partnership, an initiative supported by the US Department of Education and the National Association of State Directors of Special Education.   This dialogue process supports team members in engaging in a “focused conversation” to solve an important issue or concern.

The Parent Mentor Partnership has gained national attention for its use of C.A.F.E. DIALOGUES  in addressing dropout of students with disabilities.  Through the GraduateFIRST project, which is funded by Georgia’s State Personnel Development Grant (SPDG), parent mentors piloted C.A.F.E.s in high schools in Meriwether, Bibb and Elbert Counties using materials developed in collaboration with the IDEA Partnership and the National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities at Clemson University.  Currently, parent mentors are supporting C.A.F.E.s in additional Graduate FIRST schools.  These C.A.F.E.s bring together parents, educators, and a range of community partners to address high dropout rates and low graduation rates of students with disabilities. 

Read more about C.A.F.E.s on the National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities and IDEA Partnership’s websites using the external links provided below.