Local program encourages men to be better fathers

Compadre Y Compadre open to public

SAN ANTONIO – A family program in San Antonio aims to help men become better fathers.

Compadre Y Compadre is available to anyone, but is court-ordered in most cases.

The program, which is operated by the Children’s Shelter, aims to help fathers become better caregivers and improve relationships with their children and families.

Michael Hill, one of the 15-week program's graduates, was not ordered to attend by a judge. He said he volunteered to participate in the program to improve his relationship with his two children.

Dontray Travis also said he volunteered as a way to learn more about being a father and then pass those principles on to his own children.

Another volunteer, and the youngest to complete the program, is Jose Cervantes, 16.

Cervantes said he tries to pass on what he has learned to other teenage fathers.

Many of the men who have been court-ordered to the program are there to resolve issues in their lives.

Rashad Smith was one of those men.

He has been a part of the program for almost three years and said he hopes to continue to stay involved.

During graduation ceremonies, each man in attendance voiced his appreciation for what the program has taught him.

Many of the judges who work with the program also attend. One of them, 73rd Civil District Judge David Canales, often mandates the program for men but said he also decided to take part in it.

“I’m the father of three boys, so I figured that I could benefit from (Compadre Y Compadre),” Canales said.

While going through the program, Canales said he soon realized that he needed to deal with issues from his past.

“I grew up in an abusive environment with a stepfather,” Canales said. “I can’t say I had a really strong father figure to sort of guide me into what would be eventual fatherhood.”

Program directors said Compadre Y Compadre is seeing a lot of growth and success. In 2015, 450 fathers graduated from the program, and 110 continued as mentors. All the men who completed the program had no new Child Protective Services investigations after enrollment.

“It certainly is a good resource for people in the court system, but I think it’s a good measure out there for anybody who wants to learn to be a better dad,” Canales said.

For more on how to get involved or how to join Compadre Y Compadre, click here.

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