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

Parenting Tips and Resources

busy mom with daughter 5 Ways Parents and Caregivers Can Lower Their Stress

Raising children can be one of the most rewarding things you do. However, child-rearing is not without its share of stressors. As you head into the busy holiday season, take a moment to read and reflect on some tips for proactively managing your stress. Make some lifestyle changes that can help you parent through the holidays and any season of life with greater joy. Read more!

UnscriptedParenting After Domestic Violence – Unscripted: Conversations about Sexual and Domestic Violence

Check out our Parenting Education Programs’ Supervisor Marcus Garr discussing Parenting After Domestic Violence in a new Department of Family Services’ podcast, “Unscripted: Conversations about Sexual and Domestic Violence.” Garr joined the conversation with Unscripted host, Kendra Lee, Sarah Freeman, licensed professional counselor with Domestic and Sexual Violence Services; and Jennifer Perkins, ADAPT counselor. This powerful podcast, provides insights about behaviors parents should look out for; warns about the “sleeper effect,” when children suppress their trauma responses until adolescence or young adulthood; and guides parents about how to support their children and lessen the impact of trauma.

Back to school routine Woman and ChildRoutines Families Can Use Throughout the School Year

Maintaining healthy routines for kids throughout the school year can sometimes be challenging due to sports, clubs, lessons and other great activities that stretch the demands on family time. Check out the Parenting Education Programs’ Back to School Routines series for some tips to help keep things running smoothly. Learn more about back to school routines.

three children at edge of poolSummer Safety Tips for Families

We never want to think that accidents or injuries could happen or our children. Check out these tips from safety experts to minimize risks and help prevent avoidable accidents.

Child Supervision Guidelines header6 Tips to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect This Summer

Summer is a time of year when many students are without a variety of resources provided by schools. Community members are encouraged to help support children and families facing challenges. Check out these 6 ways you can help prevent child abuse and neglect this summer. 

girl smiling holding tabletInternet Safety: Protecting Children in the Digital Age

The internet is an essential part of our daily lives, but without proper oversight it can pose significant risks for children and adolescents. The Parenting Education Programs encourages parents and caregivers to take proactive steps to keep children from dangers such as online predators, cyberbullying, and inappropriate content. Learn more about what you can do to help children build healthy online habits.

Child Abuse Prevention Month Your Time Matters to Your KidsYour Time Matters to Your Kids

This April, we’re challenging parents and caregivers to make quality time with your child a part of your everyday routine. Focusing a few minutes of uninterrupted time and attention with each child one-on-one each day can make a huge difference. Check out why your time matters to your child and learn some ideas for quick together time with your child.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month - Teen Voices - Building Stronger Families - banner graphic - pinwheel and teen using mobile phoneWays to Make a Difference in a Teen’s Life

Looking for some ways to make a difference in your teen’s life? Overwhelmed by their attitudes? Struggling to connect? Or perhaps you want to help a teen who needs support. Check out these ways to make a difference in a teen’s life.






angry child with arms crossedManaging Tantrums and Outbursts – Supporting the Emotional Growth of Children

Tantrums are a common occurrence. Children experience a trigger. They become agitated and anxious, which can lead to total meltdown. To help you get out ahead of these situations, we are sharing some possible triggers for children, some warning signs to keep in the back of your mind, and some techniques to de-escalate the tantrums. Learn more.

child feeding dad sandwichFilling Your Child’s Emotional Bank Account
Have you ever heard of filling someone's emotional bank account? Everyone has things that make them feel positive, safe, close, and connected to another person; as well as things that annoy us, hurt our feelings or make us feel distant or disconnected from another person. Check out this article from the staff at our Parenting Education Programs to learn how these emotional “deposits” and “withdrawals” impact the way you relate to your children.

Jerry and Michelle Shapiro pose for a photo with Santa with grandsons Cayden and Cameron. Raising Grandchildren: Stressful and Delightful – Understanding Kinship Care
Jerry Shapiro, 65, often spends time with his grandsons after school and on weekends kicking a ball around the yard, riding bikes, or heading to the local playground. Jerry and his wife, Michelle, are raising their two grandsons Cayden, 9, and Cameron, 7. When grandparents and other family members care for children who are not able to be raised by their own parents, children experience more stability and fewer disruptions. This arrangement, called kinship care, gives the children a sense of belonging from their continued connectedness to family and culture. Read more.

group of children close upHelping Children Identify Their Safe Adults 

Children need to understand that it’s always an adult’s responsibility to keep them safe. Talking to your children (or children in your care) about the characteristics of a safe adult is one way to help prevent or interrupt child abuse and neglect. Check out this article that helps with this and other key safety rules taught in our Body Safety classes. 

family smiling for selfieJoin the Summer 2022 African American Culturally-Focused Parenting Class 

This parenting class provides a space where families can discuss parenting through an African American cultural lens. We hope you join us this summer for this class exploring the many historical factors that influence African American parenting styles and attitudes. Learn more about the class’ origins and unique focus. Hear from satisfied past participants and learn how to sign up for this or other parenting education classes. Learn more.

Words Matter- I believe in you- graphicWords Matter – Words to Encourage Your Children

Looking for new ways to encourage your children and let them know you care? We’ve compiled 30 days of words and phrases you can use to build up your children and help them remember how much they matter. Check out our Words Matter Challenge!

Mentor and child huggingMentors Have a Heart for Youth – BeFriend-A-Child Program Makes an Impact

Heartfelt mentoring has tangible effects. Mentors are an asset in a young person’s life and help to build a stronger, more positive community that benefits ALL children and youth. Learn more about the impact of BeFriend-A-Child mentors who have a heart for children. Check out their story.

variety of spices in spoons on tableParent and Caregiver Questionnaire SPICES Up Self-Care Routines

The best way to nurture yourself is by making sure all your needs are met. Check out the Parenting Education Programs’ SPICES questionnaire for parents and caregivers to evaluate how well you’re doing at self-care and meeting the six basic human needs.

adult and child looking at decorated treeChildhood Experiences Matter More than Gifts

Did you know that research shows giving children experiences is better than giving them toys or gadgets? Instead of fighting the crowds in the mall or shopping endlessly online for the perfect gift, take that time to plan and experience a family activity. It could even be an activity that incorporates giving and cultivates gratitude. Check out a variety of helpful ideas.

Department of Family Services Parenting 101 vide graphicParenting 101 Video

Check out our video series Parenting 101. Parenting Education Programs' Natalie Bailey answers your most pressing frequently asked parenting questions about discipline, self-care, family routines and more! Catch-up on all of the Parenting 101 videos.

child wearing outfit with bandana sittinDFS Parenting Education Programs Answers Their Most Frequently Asked Questions

The Department of Family Services provides a variety of resources and services to help parents: Parent Support Line, Parenting 101 videos and more. Check out these frequently asked questions with tips for how families can support their children in a developmentally appropriate way.

two parents and three children outside making facial expressionsPrioritize Mental Health, Build Resiliency in Families

The pandemic is leading many families to experience higher levels of stress and anxiety than ever before. During May, which is Mental Health Month, our Parenting Education Program is providing free tools and resources to help parents who are concerned about supporting their children’s mental health and general well-being. 

Amy with Fifi and SofiaRaising a Relative’s Child? You Are Not Alone

If you are raising a child for a family member or friend, then you are a kinship caregiver. And you are not alone. Kinship caregivers can benefit from training and support to help them with the unique concerns that can arise while caring for a relative’s child. Learn more about our programs and the experiences of other kinship families, send an email or call us at 703-324-7720.

five children sitting outside doing homework5 Tips to Prepare Your Children to Go Back to School During COVID-19

Under normal circumstances, children can experience a mixture of emotions about the return to school in the fall. Given all the COVID-related changes that children have experienced in the last year, these feelings are more complicated than ever. Now is a good time for parents to start having conversations with their children to help them have a positive outlook on going back to school. Check out these tips

Andre and Heather family photoGiving Parents the Right Tools: African American Parenting Classes and Dads Parenting Groups

“The parenting classes offered through Fairfax County have been a life saver for our family. Looking back at where we were before and how far we have come as a family, is like night and day. These classes helped save our family and our marriage,” said Heather.

Learn more about their story and how to register for classes.

parent holding child learning to walkTips for Building Resilience in Children

Getting up and trying again after failing is an act of courage, and children demonstrate this from an early age. How can parents encourage this spirit of resiliency and help it to blossom in their children?

The Parenting Education Programs’ staff shares suggestions.

Learn more parenting tips like these and register for one of our virtual classes by email or call us at 703-324-7720.

toddler riding wooden toy and mom sitting and clapping handsBuild Up Your Child’s Self-Esteem through Praise

Praising children is one of the ways that parents can build up a child’s self-esteem and self-worth. Having a strong, positive sense of self is important for a child’s development. Check out these suggestions from our Parenting Education Programs’ staff for how to impact your child’s behavior through praise. Get more parenting tips like these by registering for one of our virtual classes by email or call us at 703-324-7720.

father dancing with two children in living roomConnect with Your Children: Ideas for Quick and Fun Family Activities

Now more than ever, as students begin to transition back to school, it's important for families to carve out positive ways to connect with each other. And it’s easier than you think to find 5-10 minutes a day for a quick activity to share with your child. Check out suggestions from our Parenting Education Programs’ staff.

mother father holding toddler outsideDo you know how to speak your child’s love language?

Learning to express their love language can be positive for your relationship, bringing you closer to each other. The Parenting Education Programs staff suggests five ways to show your children how much they mean to you. Learn more about love languages.

parent and child doing activity in kitchenParent Café Provides Community of Support

Virtual Parent Cafés are a great way for parents to learn from each other as they grow in their parenting skills. All Parent Cafés are open to Fairfax County parents or guardians with children ages 0-18 years old. Learn more about how Virtual Parent Cafés provide a community of support to parents.

Check out the full list of Virtual Parent Cafés upcoming dates. Send an email or call 703-324-7720 to register at least one business day before the Parent Café.

child covering earsHas COVID-19 Put Children at Risk in Their Own Homes? 

In the midst of this outbreak of COVID-19, many families find themselves facing many of the risk factors for child abuse and neglect: parental stress, economic instability, food insecurity, lack of adequate child care, and lack of normal routines. Children may express anxiety by being clingy, and underlying behavioral issues are sure to surface. Parents who are unaccustomed to providing round-the-clock care for their children are likely to have their patience tested. Here are some additional resources that can help families manage their stress, cope with the crisis and understand how to support their children through the outbreak of COVID-19.

two children playing on grassIs Your Child Ready to be Home Alone?

Right now, many local parents are planning how their children will spend their time while schools are closed for an extended period. For parents of school-age children and teens, the inevitable question comes up, “Is my child ready to be left alone?” Learn information to help you decide.

studio microphoneSpanish Radio Program "La Voz del Condado de Fairfax" Talks About New Virtual Spanish Language Parent Café

Mario Prada and Raiza Barraza, social services specialists with our Parenting Education Programs, talked with Fairfax County's weekly Spanish radio program,"La Voz del Condado de Fairfax" host Heber Velasque about DFS' new Virtual Spanish Language Parent Café that helps families build a community of support. Check out the podcast.

hand weights, shoes, exercise ballNurture Yourself in the New Year

At the beginning of the new year, it seems like everyone is making resolutions to be timelier, exercise more, eat better, and get more sleep. As a parent, self-care efforts can fall short because so much time and energy go into work and family. Check out Parenting Education Programs’ helpful self-care-tips.

Podcast - County Conversation - Dads and Parenting

DFS staff, Marcus Garr of the Parenting Education Programs and Bennie Herron of the Father Engagement Program made a joint appearance on the Wednesday, June 5, 2019 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.


Spanish-Language Radio Program - WUST “La Voz del Condado de Fairfax”

On Tuesday, Apr. 2, 2019, staff from the Parenting Education Programs were guests on WUST’s Spanish-language program 1120 AM “La Voz del Condado de Fairfax” discussing Child Abuse Prevention Month and services offered by Fairfax County to support families and prevent child abuse and neglect. Tune in to the interview through the YouTube video or SoundCloud podcast.

Relevant and Helpful Topics for Fathers

Fathers, like mothers, play a significant role in their children’s psychological and emotional development. Positive father involvement contributes directly to children’s well-being, safety and stability. Through each Pocket Dad Video, our Father Engagement team members talk about relevant and helpful topics.

County Conversation Podcast Jim Person and Natalie BaileyPodcast - County Conversation - Free Parenting Classes

On Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, County Conversation host Jim Person talked with Natalie Bailey, a Social Service Specialist with the Department of Family Services. Listen to their conversation to learn about free parenting classes offered by the county! Check out this podcast.

Check out our parenting education classes for more helpful information like this.

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Fairfax Virtual Assistant