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					                                                                            African American
                                                                            Healthy Marriage
                                                                           Administration for Children and Families
                                                                              Office of Regional Operations
                                                                                    October 2007, Issue 4

                                                                   munity service providers, educators, clergy and young adult
                                                                   students, provide an opportunity for communication
                                                                   among familiar and new stakeholders, and encourage part-
                                                                   nerships and collaborations.
                                                                   A diverse planning committee connected, communicated
                                                                   and collaborated to make this AAHMI Roundtable meet-
                                                                   ing a success. The planning committee included: the Coali-
                                                                   tion for Healthy African American Relationships and Marriages
                                                                   (CHAARM), the St. Louis Healthy Marriage Coalition
                                                                   (SLHMC), the Fathers’ Support Center, Better Family Life, Inc.,
                                                                   The Salvation Army; the St. Charles Lwanga Center, the city of St.
                                                                   Louis Department of Human Services, the University of Missouri-St.
                                                                   Louis, St. Louis University, and Harris-Stowe University.
      St. Louis African American                                   Featured Speakers
     Healthy Marriage Roundtable:                                  With grace and humor, Patricia Brown, Regional Administra-
                                                                   tor, ACF Region VII and Acting Director of the Head
      Connecting, Communicating and
                                                                   Start Bureau, welcomed participants and reviewed the
             Collaborating for                                     many healthy marriage and fatherhood accomplishments in
           Healthy Relationships                                   St. Louis.
            Healthy Marriages                                      Charles Bryson, Executive Assistant for the Mayor, City of
           Healthy Communities                                     St. Louis, shared examples of his own personal experiences
                                                                   of healthy marriage as he brought welcome and well-wishes
                 September 12, 2007                                from the St. Louis Mayor’s Office. Mr. Bryson read a May-
             Millennium Student Center                             oral proclamation declaring September 12, 2007 as African
            University of Missouri – St. Louis                     American Healthy Marriage Roundtable Day in St. Louis.
                                                                   Major Lonneal Richardson, Divisional Commander, The Salvation
Roundtable Purposes                                                Army and his wife Major Patty Richardson, Director of Women’s
Approximately 140 participants representing family services        Ministries, The Salvation Army. Major Lonneal Richardson
providers, faith-based organizations, state and city social ser-   used video vignettes of real family situations to demon-
vices agencies, colleges and universities, Head Start, domestic
violence organizations and the Administration for Children
and Families attended the St. Louis African American               The Healthy Marriage Initiative
Healthy Marriage Initiative (AAHMI) Roundtable. This                 is for couples who choose marriage for themselves to de-
AAHMI event lived up to its title and fulfilled its purposes.        velop skills and knowledge necessary to form and sustain a
                                                                     healthy marriage. It is a strategy for achieving child well-
The purposes of the St. Louis AAHMI Roundtable were to               being, recognizing that children do best when raised by both
              showcase healthy marriage activities in the St.        parents in a committed, healthy marriage.
PAGE 1        Louis area, foster connections among com-
strate how faith beliefs and principles can strengthen, re-                       Partner Websites
store and heal marriages and families. Major Patty
Richardson emphasized the need to focus away from                          AAHMI Research to Practice
negativity and have a positive, hopeful focus in our work.                   Conference Proceedings
Using the Biblical story of the “Promised Land,” Major           
Patty Richardson stated that we need to look for the pos-
sibilities in marriages and in communities and create a cul-             Dr. Rozario Slack Curricula
ture of hope. The Richardsons described healthy marriage
as the willingness to make mistakes, to ask for forgiveness           St. Louis Healthy Marriage Coalition
and to give forgiveness. Their message is that strong Afri- 
can American individuals make strong African American
marriages; communities can restore individuals and impact               The Coalition for Healthy African
relationships.                                                       American Relationships and Marriage,
Networking Breakout Sessions                                  
Network breakout sessions featured local healthy mar-
riage and responsible fatherhood resources on topics
such as the healthy marriage movement in St. Louis,
culturally sensitive domestic violence resources, St.
Louis responsible fatherhood programs, a discussion
and review of research-based curriculum for African
American families, and abstinence education for youth.
Each session included lively, energetic discussions and
exchanges of ideas for strengthening African American
families in St. Louis.
AAHMI Resource Books
Each participant received a Resource Book that included
fact sheets, articles and other resources regarding strength-
ening African American families and communities.
Participants’ Feedback
The Roundtable participants rated the overall experience                   Tips for Successful
highly and were enthusiastic about next steps in continu-
ing to promote healthy marriage and responsible father-            Marriage and Fatherhood Programs
hood in the St. Louis community. One participant com-                           Roundtable Highlights
mented, “We need the workshop presenters to do presen-          Dr. Rozario Slack, Director of Marriage, Fathering and Fam-
tations at our Department of Social Services offices.”          ily Initiative, First Things First, Chattanooga, Tennessee,
                                                                challenged the participants to be “doers” not just
                                                                “planners.” Following through with program goals means
                                                                being role models and being an example in the way we live
               Complete Listing of
                                                                our lives. Dr. Slack has often heard the comment “I was
            Healthy Marriage Programs                           watching you” and provided illustrations of the importance               of being a role model and how people in the community are
           june18_list_marriageedprograms.PDF                   observing us. He emphasized that we need to “get into peo-
        Complete Mapping Database of                            ples lives” and we need to “listen.” What we do has impact
          Healthy Marriage Programs                             on individual lives.                 Stating that we need to make marriage “cool” again and we
                                                                need to make “fatherhood” cool again, Dr. Slack empha-
       Healthy Marriage and Responsible                         sized the need to throw away and challenge our caricatures
            Fatherhood Conference                               of “deadbeat dads,” “dead broke dads,” and “dead bolt
                                                                                                                      PAGE 2
Dr. Slack reviewed the following basic ingredients for suc-
cessful healthy marriage and fatherhood programs.                          ACF’s 100 Year Perspective
Community Assessment: Begin with a thorough community                             Roundtable Highlights
assessment that acknowledges programs and resources that          Diann Dawson, Director of Regional Operations, Admini-
are already successful. Marriage education/responsible fa-        stration for Children and Families, provided an overview of
therhood programs need to be relevant to the community.
                                                                  the African American Healthy Marriage Initiative
Curricula: Before implementing curricula, review and evalu-       (AAHMI) of both where and how it started and its goals
ate it to determine if it is culturally appropriate and meets     for the future.
the goals and objectives of the program. Curricula should         AAHMI goals include: reducing the disproportionate rep-
show participants “how to” have a successful marriage             resentation of African Americans in child welfare services;
and/or how to be a competent father and should be a               encouraging more youth to complete high school and go
“step-by-step” guide. A good curriculum gives participants        to college, particularly males; reducing the number of out
skills and tools to help them in their relationships.             of wedlock births; fostering healthier adults and youth; less
Periodically evaluate the curricula. Dr. Slack emphasized         divorce, more marriages; more children living in healthy
that if it is not working, “scrap it” and try something differ-   two-parent (married) households; and increasing human
ent.                                                              capital quality and economic development in communities
                                                                  where poor health, incarceration, broken families and pov-
Note: Dr. Slack has co-author several curricula: Basic
Training for Couples, Basic Training for Men, Basic Train-        erty are substantially reduced. Ms. Dawson explained the
                                                                  importance of communicating messages about why healthy
ing for Women, Basic Training for Singles, and Ten Great
                                                                  marriage is important, especially for the well-being of chil-
Dates for Black Couples. See the Partner Websites’ box on
page two for the link.
                                                                  Ms. Dawson said that the AAHMI has been working to
Outreach: Providing examples of the importance of personal
                                                                  transfer research knowledge to practical applications in
contact with potential participants, Dr. Slack stated that
programs need to determine “what is the hook” for getting         communities. See the Partner Websites box for the pro-
                                                                  ceedings of the first AAHMI Research Conference (2006).
participants to attend classes. Dr. Slack challenged partici-
pants not to be “the best kept secret in town.” One strat-        Proceedings of the second annual AAHMI Research Con-
                                                                  ference will be posted soon. The third annual AAHMI Re-
egy is to enlist the assistance of individuals and institutions
in the community that have influence. It is critical to           search Conference for 2008 is being planned.
“deliver;” that is, do what you said you would do. “Doing a       Ms. Dawson shared her vision of taking a “100-year per-
good job” is the best advertising and this “advertising is        spective” on creating a positive culture for healthy relation-
cheap.”                                                           ships and healthy marriage; that is to be successful these
As an example of creative outreach, Dr. Slack acknowl-            efforts must look toward their future impact. We need to
edges and encourages dads by distributing “Dynamite               answer the question, “How do we get messages about
Dad” stickers where ever he goes. He takes the time to            healthy relationships and healthy marriage to youth?” She
engage fathers in conversation about their fatherhood             set forth the challenge that the AAHMI work must focus
                                                                  on reaching youth through 21st century vehicles of commu-
Continued on page 4                                PAGE 3         nication and technology.
Continued from page 3                                                                                                PAGE 4

experiences and encourages them to participate in a fathering class. He reminded Roundtable participants that you “can’t
have healthy marriages without men.”
Dr. Slack challenged participants to engage the faith-community in promoting healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood
by putting faith into action. . . living faith principles in their everyday lives and in their work.
Staff: “Programs don’t work; people work.” “Be yourself.” That is, this is not just a job; it is a vocation that goes with you
into your daily life. Dr. Slack quipped, “I am somebody” who gets involved in the lives of others.
Staff needs to be diverse and representative of the community served by the program. Use a male/female team to lead
classes, remembering that “men respond differently to men.” If programs want men to participate in classes, they need to
have male leaders.
Program Evaluation: “Not everything that counts can be counted; not everything that can be counted, counts.” Programs must
be relevant, straightforward, honest, competent, great and accountable. Program evaluation measures these characteristics.
Evaluation feedback can help to improve the program.
Rallying Slogan: Dr. Slack challenged Roundtable participant, “None of us have arrived until all of us have arrived.” With en-
thusiasm, joy and hope, the Roundtable participants joined Dr. Slack in the rallying slogan.

   The AAHMI and Chicago Football Classic Team
               Up their Message to
              Youth at Soldier Field
   Diann Dawson, Director of Regional Operations, and
   Joyce Thomas, Region V Administrator, represented the
   ACF African American Healthy Marriage Initiative at the
   10th annual Chicago Football Classic (CFC) on September
   8, 2007. The annual CFC was held at Soldier Field stadium
   and is targeted at the African American community to con-
   vey the importance of higher education and to highlight the         Left to Right: Joyce Thomas, ACF Regional Administra-
   contributions of Historically Black Colleges and Universi-           tor, Karen Chatman, Hip Hop artist GLC and Diann
   ties (HBCUs). The Administration for Children and Fami-                  Dawson, Director of ACF Regional Operations
   lies (ACF), Chicago Regional Office staffed a resource table               Below: GLC Plays to Standing Room Only
   showcasing Health and Human Services as well as ACF’s
   programs and initiatives, including the African Healthy
   Marriage Initiative (AAHMI), Positive Youth Develop-
   ment, Mentoring of Prisoners of Children, Head Start,
   Child Care and grant opportunities for the 44,000-plus Af-
   rican Americans in attendance at the Classic. The AAHMI
   introduced "Family Power: A Creative Experience with
   Music” aimed at positive lifestyles, healthy relationships
   and healthy choices for youth. An entertainment event with
   Karen Chatman, Flex and GLC, a local positive Chicago
   Hip Hop artist, was held for a standing-only audience. The
   Chicago Regional Office partnered with the Chicago Urban
   League to make discounted tickets available to the Region’s
   economically disadvantaged children and youth.

 “Youth must be an integral part of the African American Healthy Marriage Initiative. We must learn
       their language and reach them through positive Hip Hop healthy relationship messages.”
                          ~Diann Dawson, ACF Director of Regional Operations, AAHMI Lead

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