Department of Family Services – Children, Youth and Families

CONTACT INFORMATION: Monday–Friday 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
703-324-7500 TTY 711
12011 Government Center Parkway, Pennino Building
Fairfax, VA 22035
Oriane Eriksen

Father Engagement

adult and two children on skateboardFathers, like mothers, play a significant role in their children’s psychological and emotional development. When fathers are actively involved, children are less likely to experience:

  • Mental illness
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Youth sexual activity
  • Teenage pregnancy
  • Substance use
  • Childhood poverty
  • High school drop out

We Believe:

  • Fathers are irreplaceable in the lives of their children
  • There is a direct link between positive father involvement and child well-being
  • Fathers contribute to their children’s safety and stability.

Dads Parenting Group facilitator and participantsIt's a fact — fathers are important to their children. Their positive involvement contributes to child safety and well-being. Dads Parenting Groups focus on self-awareness, self-care, parenting skills and relationship skills.

Do You Want to Improve Your Parenting and Fathering Skills?
Our Father Engagement Unit sponsors the services and activities below to enhance fathers’ parenting and fathering skills, and to promote and celebrate the importance of fathers in Fairfax County.

Program Includes

  • 24/7 Dad™ parenting group
  • Meals
  • Access to Fairfax County resources
  • Access to father-child friendly community activities

Characteristics of a 24/7 Dad™

  • Self-awareness
  • Caring for self
  • Fathering skills
  • Parenting skills
  • Relationship skills

12 Sessions and One Orientation Meeting – Free for all participants!

Sessions in Spanish

  • 2024 Sessions take place virtually.
  • April-June Sessions start First Wednesday in April (6:30-8:30 p.m.) (TBD)
  • Sept.-Dec. Sessions start Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2024 (6:30-8:30 p.m.) 

Sessions in English

  • 2024 Sessions take place virtually.
  • Feb.-April Sessions start Tuesday, February 6, 2024 (6-8:30 p.m.) 
  • May-Aug. Sessions start Monday, May 6, 2024 (6-8:30 p.m.)
  • Sept.-Dec. Sessions start First Wednesday, September (6-8:30 p.m.) (TBD)

Pre-registration is required. Enroll by completing this form. (For Fathers Only)

For more information, contact Bennie Herron 703-324-7308, Mercedes Alonzo 703-324-7677 (Spanish).

Pocket Dad Video

Challenging Teen Behaviors
Is your teenager’s attitude or behavior making you frustrated? Bennie Herron and Champana Bernard are back with a new Pocket Dad video about showing love to your teens at their most challenging times.

(Check out more Pocket Dad videos!)

Father Engagement Unit Helps Strengthen Families

Father Engagement Podcasts

On this edition of Unscripted, host Kendra Lee talks with Ricardo Sanchez, Resident in Counseling in Domestic and Sexual Violence Services ADAPT (Anger and Domestic Abuse Prevention and Treatment) program; and Bennie Herron, Father Engagement Supervisor in the Department of Family Services Children Youth and Families Division; about the role fathers can play in modeling healthy relationship behavior for their children.

DFS staff, Marcus Garr of the Parenting Education Programs and Bennie Herron of the Father Engagement Program made a joint appearance on the June 5, County Conversation podcast with host Jim Person to talk about dads! Listen to their conversation to learn how each program’s classes and other services help dads to embrace their role in the family and parent with confidence! Tune in to the interview through the SoundCloud podcast.

County Conversation Dads and Parenting group photo

La Voz del Condado de Fairfax – WUST’s Spanish-Language Program 1120 AM 

On Tuesday, March 17, Yuri Villacorta and Mercedes Alonzo from the Children, Youth and Families Division were guests on “La Voz del Condado de Fairfax” discussing Fairfax County services that support families and prevent child abuse and neglect. They focused specifically on our Father Engagement Program and issues in parenting that are specific to dads. If you missed it, you can listen to the interview

Become A Volunteer Facilitator

We are looking for committed fathers or father figures to co-facilitate the Dads Parenting Groups. Volunteers:

  • Co-lead one Dads Parenting Group from 6:30-8:30 p.m., one evening a week for 13 weeks.   
  • Must be reliable, accepting, patient, honest, flexible, motivated, and cooperative. 
  • Are highly encouraged to apply if bilingual (English/Spanish speaking).

Fairfax Virtual Assistant