Fathers in Touch
During the first annual Fathers Matter picnic on June 20, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins presented a proclamation declaring June 20-27 as Fatherhood Awareness Week. In addition to the proclamation, participants enjoyed food and games. Fathers, mothers and their children - both from the community and fathers who graduated from the Fathers in Touch program - were joined by staff from the Department of Family Services, Neighborhood and Community Services, the Capital Youth Empowerment program, and the Fire Fighters of Fairfax City.
Fatherhood Awareness Week
WHEREAS, fathers play an integral part in the successful lives of their children and research has demonstrated that the psychological and emotional development, health and well-being of children is significantly enhanced by the presence, commitment and nurturing of fathers and father figures; and
WHEREAS, with fathers actively engaged, children are less vulnerable to the risks of childhood poverty, mental illness, juvenile delinquency, youth sexual activity, teenage pregnancy, substance abuse and high school failure; and WHEREAS, involvement of fathers in the lives of their children increases the likelihood of success in social skills, academic performance, adult careers and employment goals; and
WHEREAS, through programs, including the Fathers in Touch Parenting programs; Healthy Families Fairfax; and the Head Start Policy Council, the Fairfax County Department of Family Services, additional county agencies and community-based agencies help fathers gain parenting skills and economic self-sufficiency; NOW THEREFORE
BE IT RESOLVED, that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, on behalf of all residents of Fairfax County, does hereby proclaim June 20-27, 2015, as Fatherhood Awareness Week in Fairfax County to raise public awareness of the importance of fatherhood and the importance of a father's engagement with his children and family.
Sharon Bulova, Chairman
Fathers Matter Picnic
The Fathers in Touch program is designed to help fathers become teachers and role models for their children. It is a 12-week parenting class that uses the 24/7™ Dad curriculum. Three supervised visitation activities are included to promote strong relationships between fathers and their children. The program is a free resource for fathers, designed to educate and empower fathers, support mothers, and enable children to develop strong self-esteem, family identity and values.
Learn the Characteristics of 24/7™ Dad.
Check out the photos from the Fatherhood Class Fishing Trip.
Interested in volunteering to mentor fathers? Get involved in the Father2Father Volunteer Program.
The program is free for all participants and includes dinner!
It also includes:
Fathers in Touch classes are offered through a formal partnership between the Fairfax County Department of Family Services and the Capital Youth Empowerment Program, Inc.
Upcoming Class (total of 12 sessions)
From January 2010 to April 2012, 59 fathers with 120 children graduated from our FIT program (three classes offered per calendar year).
Results of before and after surveys completed by 2010 FIT graduates revealed:
Pre-registration is required.
Facilitator Calvin Robertson leads a Fathers in Touch
I didn’t sign up for the Fathers in Touch program voluntarily. I was court-ordered to go, and for the first couple of meetings I thought of it as just something I had to do. Then, as I started listening with an open mind, I began to really relate to what the instructors were saying. It made so much sense to me, and I loved it after that. Now I recommend it to everyone. I’ve spoken at a graduation, participated in focus groups, and even talked about it in Washington, D.C.
One thing that really sticks with me is that the old way doesn’t work. There is a big difference in the generations. The way I was raised, children didn’t ask questions and dads disciplined their kids by hitting them. That’s what I knew, and nobody ever taught me how to do it differently. The Fathers in Touch program gave me lots of tools and showed me how to look at other options. Now, instead of “do what I say, not what I do,” I am a role model to my three teenage sons and they find stability at home. We talk about things, and they understand that I’m not just ordering them around. I’ve learned that there is no real reason to ever hit your kid. I’ve also learned how to control my temper and how to relieve stress by nurturing myself.
During the fatherhood classes, we all helped and supported each other. We shared ideas and compared stories. Once a month, we had an activity with our kids, like going fishing or going to the zoo. Throughout the program, I told my sons everything I was learning.
When I was going through tough times, I always thought that everything would turn out okay if I just tried to do the right thing. And just when I needed it, help came along – the Fathers in Touch program. This program is so good. If you’re struggling in any kind of way, I highly recommend it.
Wanting the best for my two sons yet having concerns about raising them properly, my wife and I looked into various parenting education programs offered through Fairfax County. This is how I discovered the Fathers In Touch Program. The class appealed to me because my parents divorced when I was eleven and my dad was never really a significant part of my life growing up. Because of my strained relationship with my dad, I needed to learn how to be the best father I could be. I mean . . . they don't give you a manual for raising your children along with the bill from the hospital.
When my boys grow up they won't be boys at all anymore. They will be young men . . . whether I have taken on the responsibility seriously enough to raise them or not. I developed a current desire for a future relationship I would have with my boys where they would want to be around me . . . not just because they feel obligated to look after me . . . but because we have a terrific relationship.
I took so much away from the Fathers In Touch Class. I was challenged not only by the instructors but by the other dads as well. The instructors led us through sometimes difficult discussions about communicating with our sons and daughters, helping them to understand why we have to discipline them and even explaining to them that everyone makes mistakes - even their fathers. We learned how to place value on our children's feelings while we taught ourselves the importance of saying "I'm sorry."
We learned why it is so important to not only be physically present but mentally engaged with our sons and daughters. The dads in my class discussed leaving work problems at work so as to leave and preserve true quality time with our children. At the same time we were learning to give unconditionally to our children we were learning the very hard lesson of giving to ourselves. We realized with our instructors' help how severely important it is for us as dads to spend some part of each week/of each day focusing on ourselves. Nurturing ourselves is not something grown men talk about at all; however, we learned that if we don't, we cannot be the best dads we need to be.
From the other fathers, I gained some needed perspective. Some of the dads were dealing with some really challenging circumstances and situations. One dad who I got to know fairly well only saw his children once every week for a few hours over the weekend. On top of that, he was absolutely exhausted from work when he saw them. That night after hearing my classmate speak I became so thankful that I could go home every night and kiss and hug my boys. I've often felt very tired myself when the weekend arrives but I have learned that my boys do not care about that. They want their dad to play and I learned that I owe them that every single time. What they're going to remember and what I'm going to remember are the experiences we had together.
I came away from the Fathers In Touch Class learning so much. I took away - among other things - that fatherhood is not a sprint for a few years. Being a father is a marathon for life. I make mistakes. We as dads make mistakes. But I am committed for the long haul. I am not only determined to get this thing right but I am determined to change in order to get it right. I love my boys that much.
Moses Eric Cobb II
Moses Eric Cobb II