For All Dads: An African American Male Wellness Agency Journal

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Usually, conversations about early childhood education often include the role of a mother, teacher, or specialist.

The role that fathers play tends to be left out of the conversation and we know that the role fathers play in being involved in early childhood development can make a huge difference to not only the family but also to the child in the childcare setting.

Calling All Dads provides opportunities for a father to be an advocate and to have a voice in the development and education of their children. The Proud Dad Pledge Initiative has had 2,500 men take the Proud Dad Pledge. The impact that this

program has had on improving early childhood development has been tremendous.

That is why it is important for the County to stand on our commitment to this project and continue funding and collaborating with Calling all Dads and the entire African American Male Wellness Agency Fatherhood Intiative.

“provides opportunities for a father to be an advocate and to have a voice
2 The AA Wellness Agency | Calling All Dads Journal EVENTS
“Turning Visions Into Missions” Vision Board Event for Dads Real Dads Real Talk Mental Health Conversation for Fathers Fathers At The Table the Forgotten Expert (In Partnership with Advocates For Educational Equity and Excellence) We Cook Wednesday The Proud Dad Cookout Chess and Puzzles Fathers at the Table 2 Selfies with Dad FC BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS SUPPORTS CALLING ALL DADS COMMISSIONER STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF THE AA WELLNESS AGENCY FATHERHOOD INITIATIVE Picture (Right) : County Commissioner, Erica C. Crawley

the tools to learn.

The African-American Male Well ness organization strives to pro vide this sort of support for men. It’s all about encouraging fathers to strengthen relationships with their children.


With your relationship with the African American Male Wellness Agency, How important is fatherhood engagement and fathers being involved in their child’s education to you?

Arthur Norman from Heavenly Kids: It’s extremely important. Often-times the narrative focuses on the issue of fatherlessness and its effects on the children and the community as a whole. But I think we ought to highlight the fathers that are involved in their child’s life and education more.

A part of engagement is encouraging fathers who are involved and providing more opportunities for fathers to connect with other fathers and get support. That way, iron can begin to sharpen iron. As more dads see one another being involved, it will prompt them to continue to do the work that they’re already doing in their child’s life. And from that, the child benefits and the narrative naturally shifts. If all we ever hear is that dads aren’t involved, that will continue to be the expectation.

When the emphasis becomes about ensuring that every child has a village of people in their lives who are giving them atten tion and support, there’s always a greater chance of success both in their education and in life in general.

As someone who’s worked in ear ly childhood education for over a decade, I can acknowledge that there’s a discrepancy as far as the focus on engaging with dads. The natural instinct is to think solely about the needs of moms and the kids, whether that’s via programming or resources. But father engagement is huge! And when the needs of fathers are considered, they have space to take a more active role in ful filling their child’s needs.

It’s all about encouragement. Parents need support, inspiration and encouragement. Historically, the responsibility of the kids has solely been on women, and con sequently, men haven’t learned how to be great fathers and care takers. We’ve gotten a pass. But it’s time for that to change and a part of that is equipping men with

How was the process of earning your 5 star rating and how has it benefit you and your center?

Stache Wood from Joyful Begin nings: In 2018 Joyful Beginnings Children’s Learning Academy (JB CLA) obtained the 5 Star Step Up To Quality Rating through Ohio’s Child Care Quality Rating System. The Academy has maintained this rating with pride.

The process was executed by identifying the individual needs of each child in coordination with their families and by continuous on-going staff training that represent the vision and mission of JBCLA. We have been strategic in our demonstration of providing high quality care through community resources, assessing and observing each child and providing an environment that enables children to participate in learning experiences that provide academic enrichment and social emotional opportunities through the program.

Step Up To Quality has given our Academy funding opportunities to help strengthen areas such as marketing, educational and mental health partnerships. We are proud to be one of the top academy’s who provide kindergarten readiness that further promotes our motto “Right Beginnings Assure Right Endings In Your Child’s Life of Learning”

Why is it important to engage with fathers and why are you excited to work with Calling All Dads?

Marissa Payton from Fruitful Trees Learning Center: It is important to engage with our fathers here at the center because most of them are just as much involved with their child as the mother. Society tends to have a stigma, especially in the Black community, that fathers are not involved in their child’s lives especially with academics.

That has not been the case at our center what so ever. We know the importance of the Black dad. I be lieve it also increases confidence in the child and father when the father is active and aware of what is going on at school because it is important for children to have all the support they can get in and out of the classroom.

We are excited to work with calling all dads because we are always looking for more ways to involve our fathers and do out of the norm activities to increase relationships and engagement!


“We develop men into great fathers and remove barriers that may hinder their participation in the lives of their children.”
Kindergarten Readiness Proud Dad Kit Proud Dad Cookout 2020
3 The AA Wellness Agency | Calling All Dads Journal


Little Incredibles is an early child hood learning center founded on July 5, 2021, on the north side of Columbus Ohio. Little Incredibles provides a nurturing and stimulat ing environment for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years, allowing them earn, Play and Grow.

The AA Wellness Fatherhood In itiative Team got with center di rector, RaeShelle Stewart, to talk about the mission of Little Incredi bles, their journey through step up to quality and the ways that Calling All Dads and Franklin County are working to support their efforts.

How long has your center been in service?

Little Incredibles has been serving families in the community since


I graduated from Wright State University with my Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education and I obtained my Early Childhood teaching license through the state of Ohio to teach grades Pre-K through 3rd grade.

Prior to opening Little Incredibles, I worked for Columbus City Schools as a Leveled Literacy Intervention Specialist. I made a quick transition from (LLI) Instructor to Teacher. I’ve taught 3rd grade, 2nd grade and Kindergarten at Trevitt Elementary before resigning to embark on my journey in childcare.

One day I was venting to my husband about kindergarten readiness, and the data I had analyzed which showed that a

Why is it important for you to be rated higher by Step Up to Quality and get more stars?

It’s important to me personally to earn more stars because I want to be a quality program for young chil dren. It’s as simple as that. These stars represent quality and contin uous improvement. A lot more goes into running a quality child care program, but these stars ensure a consistent benchmark and founda tion for all child care centers and families.

As a new program in the county, the star rating initiative is helping my program grow in the right di rection while also holding my team and myself as a leader and child advocate accountable as we strive to meet SUTQ standards.

Are you applying for RISE scholarships and how can they benefit your center?

Yes. I’ve worked with two fam ilies to secure Rise Scholar ships so their Little Incredibles could attend my program. It’s been extremely beneficial to us and our families, and I en courage families who qualify to apply and take full advantage of the opportunity. Thank you to the county for creating this program and helping to con nect resources to our families and support our center.

When do you plan to get your next star?

I plan to earn my next star be fore December 2022.



The African American Male Wellness Agency is an official community partner with Little Incredibles Early Learning Center helping to increase the center’s star rating and has assisted the childcare center with information about the RISE scholarship and trainings.

The Agency also conducts monthly programming engag ing with the dads at the center and promoting K Readiness.



“I had my first daughter when I was 19. I was able to parent successfully because I received some amazing advice from friends and family. Participating in the AA Wellness Fatherhood Initiative allows me to pass that on and to continue to grow and develop as a father. I am happy to be part of this community.

My favorite part about being a dad is watching my kids grow and develop into their own persons. It’s been fun helping them find their passions.

I am actively helping to get my kids kindergarten ready. My kids and I read every night. I am trying to set a foundation for them to be lifelong learners by listening to the things that they find interesting and diving deeper into those topics.”

Selfies with Dads 2022 Christopher Wyche. External Affairs at AT&T Age 37. Three Kid – Mariah (18), Lulu (6) and Benny (3)




Proud Dad Dassan Jefferson: “To me, being a father means every day I have an opportunity that no one else in the world does. I have the chance to be my daughter’s hero. I have the chance to make her smile over and over again. Those smiles may be overlooked by some, but it’ll be those recol lections that help me get through my days.”

“Having a fatherhood program in Columbus is reassuring. It shows the initiative that men, especially

Black men, whom the stereotype is mostly about, are strapping up our boots and getting to work. It reinforces the idea of putting strength back into our communi ties and into our children’s lives.

To have a fatherhood program in Columbus shows that we as men have stepped up to the plate and are ready to deliver. I am proud to be able to build community with so many other like-minded dads who want to be in their kid’s lives.

Proud Dad, L’Ouverture Jones Jr: “My fatherhood experience has been nothing short of a blessing. I am the proud Father of 5 children of whom I am rais ing full-time. I was raised by my beloved mother and a man that I later realized stepped-up and became a Father to me due to my father’s absence. I love my natu ral Father and our relationship is growing now thankfully.

Today, I am blessed to play a crit ical role in the lives of all of my

children pouring into them all of the things my childhood lacked. This is Yah giving me an opportu nity to challenge and defeat gen erational and stereotypical narra tive of African fatherless homes that leave our children vulnera ble in the hands of a tough, cruel world. Today.... We build....We strengthen....We fight.... Togeth er!”

“Its all about encouraging fathers to strengthen their relationships with their children.”
Proud Dad Cookout 2022 Selfies with Dads 2022
6 The AA Wellness Agency | Calling All Dads Journal

Proud Dad, Tai Cornute: I don’t have one particular story that highlights the gravity of my love as a father. I remember the day both of my children were born. It changed my life... Forever.

Having never met my own father, I am overwhelmed with joy to share the full range of emotions my children experience; tears, laughter, anger, happiness, etc. Providing a safe space for my children to grow into healthy and emotionally mature adults is the greatest accomplishment of my life.

Proud Dad, DJ DURL: It is important for fathers to see and hear other fathers because it reminds us that we aren’t alone in this journey. Iron strengthens iron and we allow each other to vent without shame or blame. Every father needs a tribe.


I thought it was very well run and was happy to see the other dads of all ages in the room!

I find all AA events & certainly the program itself very informative & helpful. The cause is very important to all Black Men. I am encouraged & proud to be involved.

I always learn new things and always look forward to the next event. Keep up the great work.
Proud Dad Cookout 2021
7 The AA Wellness Agency | Calling All Dads Journal
“ ” “ ” “ ” “ ” All of your events have been GREAT!
UPCOMING EVENTS Real Dads Real Talk Cooking with Dads 0CT. NOV. 13 17


Ensure my child has access to quality childcare

Read more with my child or children

Take a Break from electronics

Be more active with my child or children

The AA Wellness Agency | Calling All Dads


Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services supports early childhood providers and professionals in achieving high-quality ratings through the state’s Step Up To Quality (SUTQ) rating system.

The training includes 32 hours of no-cost Ohio Approved professional development exclusively for Franklin County’s home and center-based providers.

Franklin County has partnered with the City of Columbus and Action for Children to launch Franklin County RISE. This is a $22 million investment in our early learning system, making high-quality child care more accessible and more affordable for families – and supporting educators and child care programs.

This is for families, child care centers and teachers.

Visit for more info.

THANK YOU TO OUR PROGRAM FUNDERS! FRANKLIN COUNTY FATHERHOOD COALITION The African American Male Wellness Agency Future Ready Columbus Actions for Children Community Development for All People CareSource Columbus Public Health Family Stabilization Unit Franklin County Child Support Enforcement Agency Jewish Family Services Fatherhood Fraternity DADDS Enterprise Dads Financial Legacy Group The Columbus Urban League Nationwide Children’s Hospital Advocates for Educational Equity and Excellence Ohio Coalition on Fatherhood @AAWellnessAgency @ProudDadPledge #ProudDadPledge and Text PROUD DAD to 888-675-1354
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