SAN ANTONIO – Since Father’s Day is coming up on June 20th, KSAT Community is highlighting SJRC Texas, formerly known as St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, which cares for children and families who have been affected by trauma, abuse and neglect and have been removed from their homes by the Department of Family and Protective Services.
The nonprofit is offering a new Fatherhood Initiative, a community-wide effort to strengthen the father-child relationship by creating opportunities for meaningful engagement and involvement in their children’s lives.
As part of SJRC Texas’s Parenting & Prevention Department, part of the group’s mission is to help educate the community and families on how and why positive relationships with father figures are important and impactful.
“Our Fatherhood Initiative allows businesses, agencies, and individuals to come together in support of this goal,” said Jaci Gonzales, Chief Prevention Officer for SJRC Texas.
Recent studies on parent-child relationships find that having a loving and nurturing father figure was as important for a child’s happiness, well-being, and social and academic success as having a loving and nurturing mother, according to SJRC Texas.
“The idea is framed around the idea that it takes a village to raise a child,” Gonzales said. “Through our Fatherhood Initiative, we offer support groups, training, and events. Another goal of ours is for our agency, SJRC Texas, to serve as the landing place where dads can connect to when seeking resources, information, support or opportunities while on their fatherhood journey. We believe if an adult is important to a child, then they are important to us.”
Studies show that one in ten expecting, or new dads experience perinatal anxiety or depression and 56% do not seek support and that 43% of first-time dads believe postnatal depression and anxiety is a sign of weakness, according to SJRC Texas.
“Through our research, we have also found that fathers need better mental health support,” said Gonzales. “As a community, we don’t acknowledge the emotional toll of fatherhood that often leads to many dads suffering in silence, processing their hardships alone, or simply not speaking up when they are struggling. The stress of parenting can break anyone, including dad. Just like mothers, fathers don’t deserve to suffer in silence or have their manhood questioned for seeking help.”
Programs provided by the SJRC Texas Fatherhood Initiative:
Parents as Teachers (PAT) Program:
In the Fatherhood Initiative program, any qualifying male caregiver seeking support has the opportunity to participate in a free evidence-based parenting support program where families are assigned a certified parent educator who works with the family to promote family well-being, promote positive parent-child interaction and teach appropriate development centered parenting skills.
SJRS Texas’ newly launched Fatherhood Forum is a virtual support group offered just to fathers and father figures.
There are several June events coming up in honor of Father’s Day. The nonprofit has partnered with local parks and recreation departments to offer a Father-Child Fishing Experience on June 5. In July there is a three-part series “Science of Being Dad” kicking off in July.
SJRC Texas offers bi-monthly meetings open to any community members that want to learn more about the mission or want to help support the cause. This is offered via zoom and the link is shared on the SJRC Texas Facebook page.
“I’ve enjoyed participating in the FI (Fatherhood Initiative) meetings and volunteering,” said Joel G, a dad of two and Fatherhood Initiative participant and volunteer. “As a dad, this mission speaks to my heart. We’re helping break down negative stigmas and stereotypes of dads and educating others on how and why a positive role model in a child’s life is so important.”
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“Our FI (Fatherhood Initiative) along with our Parents as Teachers Program serves as a prevention program meaning our department is working to prevent child abuse and neglect before children end up in the foster care system,” said Gonzales. “We want to support all caregivers so that they have the tools to raise healthy families so children can stay in their homes and not end up in the foster care system.”
To learn more about SJRC Texas, click or tap here.
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