‘Dedicated Dads’ Lead to Healthy Kids

Sunday, June 18, 2023 is a Day to Reflect on the Significance of Fathers

Happy Father’s Day cards extol the virtues of Dad with pithy sayings like “#1 Dad” and “Happy Father’s Day to a dad who taught me what life is about….”

Fathers occupy a critical role in child development. According to The Fatherhood Project, Children with actively involved fathers are: 43% more likely to earn A’s in school and 33% less likely to repeat a grade than those without engaged dads. Children who feel a closeness to their father are also twice as likely as to enter college or find stable employment after high school, 75% less likely to have a teen birth, 80% less likely to spend time in jail, and half as likely to experience multiple depression symptoms.

Yeimi Arias, grants manager for the Family Service Agency (FSA)’s Dedicated Dads program, is no stranger to the need for a strong father figure in the lives of children and families.  A 10-year veteran with FSA, Arias manages the countywide program which is funded by Department of Health and Human Services.  It is the only program of its kind in the County. Since the inception, FSA facilitators have trained over 200 fathers and father figures using an evidence-based curriculum developed by the National Fatherhood Initiative whose vision is for every child to grow up with an involved, responsible, and committed father.

“Men can lose sight of the importance of their role in raising children,” explained Arias. “Often as the primary breadwinner, many men see Mom as the point person for children – and thus minimize the critical elements they bring to raising healthy happy kids.  The Dedicated Dads curriculum aims to assist dads in understanding these important assets that they have to offer their kids and families.”

The curriculum is a 12-week set of workshops (offered in-person or remote) available in Spanish and English. The first class begins with the participants relating their own childhood experiences.

“The key to the success of Dedicate Dads,” says Arias, “is a safe, non-judgmental space where the dads can share their stories and challenges with the role of fatherhood.

“Many come into the program somewhat skeptical,” she continued, “but leave feeling better about themselves as dads and as part of a group that has common understandings.”

One participant summed up his experience participating in the Dedicated Dads program, “I put much thought into what kind of father I wanted to be for my daughter and by taking this fatherhood class, it provided me with a space with other fathers to share our experiences.”

Participants in the Dedicated Dads program are fathers and father figures (grandparents, uncles or foster dads) who are 18 or over and have responsibility for children ages 0-4. Typically, there are 12-15 participants in each group. The ages vary, but about 65% are between 25-44.

During the program, dads concentrate on topics such as self-care, appropriate discipline techniques, communication strategies and ways to be involved with their kids – even if they do not reside in the same home.

Additional support is also available to the participants via an Economic Empowerment program offered in collaboration with CommUnify. The Santa Barbara Public Library and the Lompoc Adult School and Career Center offer continuing education, job training and English Language proficiency courses.

The outcomes of the Dedicated Dads program are stellar.  Comparison of pre- and post-survey data showed that 96% of respondents found the program helpful to them and 56% found it extremely helpful. 83% of respondents said the program helped them work together with their child’s mother.

Graduating dads were enthusiastic about what they took away from their participation.  All of the surveyed respondents said the program was helpful for their parenting – which means that every single dad took away some sort of new skill/new piece of knowledge that was helpful in their interactions with children and the other parent.

To find out more about Dedicated Dads, including a full slate of upcoming workshops this summer, please visit fsacares.org/fathers.


Family Service Agency of Santa Barbara County (FSA) is a nonprofit social service agency that has served the people of Santa Barbara County since 1899. Operating as Santa Maria Valley Youth and Family Center (SMVYFC) in Santa Maria and Little House By The Park (LHP) in Guadalupe, FSA helps the community’s most vulnerable children, families, and seniors meet their basic needs while simultaneously addressing mental health needs. Through this holistic approach, FSA improves the strength and well-being of our community. All services are provided free or on a sliding fee/donation scale and no one is denied assistance because of an inability to pay. Visit fsacares.org or call (805) 965-1001 for more information.

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