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Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, Up Center Address Community Health

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New Program Engages Dads to Support Child Growth and Development

NORFOLK, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation has partnered with The Up Center, formerly Child & Family Services of Eastern Virginia, to fund a community outreach campaign providing a pathway for dads to engage in family growth and development. The “Dad to Dads” initiative provides a community-based approach to strengthening families by offering one on one coaching and mentoring that assists fathers by providing a roadmap towards being a positive support system.

This innovative program encourages fathers’ engagement in their children’s lives, which is important for fetal growth, infant and childhood development, as well as maternal health and well-being,” said Andrea Long, Chief Program and Strategy Officer for the Up Center. “We are excited to partner with a company like Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield in Virginia that recognizes the importance of addressing the whole family for successful community health.”

The Dad to Dads initiative is part of The Up Center’s Maternal Health Hub program, which provides a compilation of services that respond effectively to the maternal health needs of mothers and families. This continuum includes Early Childhood and Home Visiting Services, specifically Parents as Teacher and Healthy Families, Maternal Mental Health Outpatient Services, Doula Services and Care Coordination, and now Dad Engagement Services. The Hub provides a single point of entry that opens the door for assessment, referral, and access to other support services.

Services can be delivered in one of three office locations in Portsmouth, Norfolk, and Suffolk. Participants can also access services in their home, via telehealth, or with hybrid delivery. The program serves those generally underserved with an overarching goal to increase access to services and improve outcomes.

The Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation’s new $350,000 grant will focus specifically on the Dad Engagement Services Initiative over the next three years and includes community outreach, care coordination, group-based support, and 1:1 coaching and mentoring for about 300 men. Since a dad’s level of engagement has an impact on moms and children throughout the entire reproductive lifespan (before and in-between pregnancies, during pregnancy and after delivery), the program will also aim to measure improved birth outcomes as evidenced by an increase in babies born full term, decrease in NICU admissions, or decrease in depressive symptoms, etc.

The grant is part of the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation’s commitment of up to $30 million to advance equity in Maternal & Child Health across the country.

One out of every three children in America live in a home without their biological father present and this program directly addresses this community challenge,” said Jennie Reynolds, Medicaid Plan President in Virginia. “Healthier communities lead to healthier people and community organizations like The Up Center are a key component of our whole-health approach.”

The Up Center’s mission is to partner with children, families, and communities to improve lives and outcomes through prevention, intervention, and support services. The organization’s seven core organizational values include integrity, compassion, respect, commitment, accountability, operational excellence, and equity.

All soon-to-be dads, one day hope-to-be dads, full-time and part-time dads, grandfathers, stepfathers, and father figures are encouraged to contact Michael Jones, the Up Center Dad Engagement Specialist, via email at or at 757-337-3447 to get involved in the program. The Dad 2 Dads and the Dads & Doulas groups are free and open to all fathers and father figures living in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Chesapeake, or Virginia Beach.

More information about the Up Center and the “Dad to Dads” program is available on the agency’s website at

About The Up Center:

The Up Center (formerly Child & Family Services of Eastern Virginia) is a nonprofit, human services agency dedicated to partnering with children, families, and communities to improve the lives and outcomes of South Hampton Roads residents through a wide range of programs and services. The agency has evolved and grown over its 140-year history through a series of mergers, including the merger of Child & Family Services and Family Services of Tidewater in 2004. Today, we impact about 10,000 people per year most of whom are at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. We provide access to critical services such as mental health & substance use disorder counseling, parent education & prevention services, housing & financial counseling, and education, etc. to BIPOC and low-income populations who otherwise would not have access to these resources. The Up Center fights social disparities by helping BIPOC and low-income communities to improve health outcomes and economic mobility.

About Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation

The Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is a philanthropic arm of the Elevance Health Foundation. The Foundation works to address health equity by focusing on improving the health of the socially vulnerable through strategic partnerships and programs in our communities with an emphasis on maternal child health; mental health; and food as medicine. Additionally, the Foundation also responds to disasters when our communities need us the most. The Foundation coordinates the company’s year-round Dollars for Dollars program which provides a 100 percent match of associates’ donations, as well as its Volunteer Time Off and Dollars for Doers community service programs. ®ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbol are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. To learn more about the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation and the Elevance Health Foundation, please visit and its blog at


Kersha Cartwright
Ph: (678) 767-0199