Experts agree that the role a father plays in a child’s development is extremely important. Yet many new dads today are totally un-prepared for parenthood. So, a number of local agencies, including Barrios Unidos, are teaching teenage fathers what to do.
"A lot of times what the system does, I don’t think on purpose, is they push the father aside because they view him as the problem," said Socorro santillan, executive director, at fresno barrios unidos.
"Today’s society the young men get all these different impressions of what a real man is, and usually those role models are rappers or gangsters."
"We talk to them about how a real man is one who protects his family, is involved in his community."
One success story for Barios Unidos’ Bright Futures Fatherhood program is 16-year-old Juan Bautista, who won court approval last month to be more involved in his son’s upbringing. But first, Sarah Villa mediated between the mother, Rosemary, and the dad.
Sarah Villa a parent program specialist at Barrios Unidos says, "The judge gave me the opportunity to speak with her outside because she wasn’t familiar with our organization. She’s excited, she knows that it’s important for his son to have his father in his life."
"I can honestly say that without Barios Unidos I wouldn’t have my son in my arms."
The teen pregnancy rate in southeast fresno is three times the state average. The goal of Fresno Barrios Unidos is two fold:
To try to reduce the rate of teen pregnancy, and to teach teenage parents how to raise their children in a safe, secure, and loving environment.
"That’s the reason I’m standing here that’s the reason I’m doing good in school, my son changed me from landing behind bars and coming back, and saying I did it, being a dad, I did it, it motivates me. And I want onthers to get that inspiration from me, that I might be 16 years old, but I had to grow up a lot faster than others do, a lot faster. But I think part of being a father, you gotta step up your game to be a dad."