Community Education Workers

What it is:
Community Education Workers (CEWs) are trusted community members and certified Community Health Workers who work with previously isolated families to build on their strengths and help prepare children for school using culturally appropriate strategies.

Why it’s important:
CEWs are natural leaders in their communities who help strengthen ties between families and the systems designed to support them, like schools and social services. Through culturally specific group activities and home visits parents learn about the importance of starting early to help young brains grow. They build friendships, learn from each other and, ultimately, feel more comfortable in school settings so they can be more involved in their child’s education.

How it works:
CEWs support families by meeting with them weekly in their homes and facilitating small group sessions at nearby schools. They focus on early childhood topics like brain development, attachment and literacy. They also work with schools, equipping them with tools to better support families and children from immigrant and refugee communities, and communities of color. Strong cultural ties are an intentional and critical part of what makes the CEW program work. CEWs have a long history of working with families in their community and they are passionate about helping them build cultural pride as they learn.

There are seven CEWs working with previously isolated families across N/NE Portland and East County. Last year, CEWs worked with more than 100 families with young children from culturally specific communities—African American, Native American, Latino, Somali, and communities from Burma.