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Smiling Kids


HACAN Hispanics Against Child Abuse & Neglect is a nonprofit educational and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening Hispanic / Latino families in Northern Virginia through parent education and out-of-school activities that serve and support youth. Founded in 1985, HACAN fosters strong family relations and promotes community child abuse awareness and prevention. Today, hundreds of families in Fairfax County benefit from HACAN’s diverse, culturally sensitive programs. HACAN’s programs operate along the continuum of family needs, beginning with young children, where life skills mentoring provides a positive role model; to teens seeking to find their voice constructively through advocacy; to their parents who are seeking to support their children as they grow and confront issues that are common or specific to the culture.

Our Board Members

Our Board members guide and continue the legacy of Carmen Fernandez.
Their passion and commitment for community service is inspiring. 


Below are the staff that support our mission and values in serving our community. 

Our History

Carmen Fernandez

Our Founder

December 26, 1932 - September 17, 2021

Carmen was passionate about helping others from a very young age. As a teenager, she and her friends ministered to poor families in the small, rural town of La Lisa, and she later went on a mission trip to Mexico that strengthened her faith even further. Carmen studied social work at the University of Havana before immigrating to the United States in 1960. She completed her undergraduate studies at George Mason University while starting a family with her husband, Jorge. She obtained her master’s degree in social work (MSW) from The Catholic University of America, which opened the door to her 25-year career at Arlington County’s Child Protective Services.

While working for Arlington County, Carmen saw the need to advocate for Spanish-speaking immigrants in child protective services and to assist them with parenting challenges in cultural transition. In 1985, Carmen founded Hispanics Against Child Abuse and Neglect (HACAN) to strengthen families, empower youth, and prevent child abuse through culturally competent education, intervention, and community advocacy.

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