Teen Fathers Program

GBAPP started the Teen Fathers Program in 1985 and transitioned it to the Bridgeport YMCA.  In 2000, GBAPP began working with parenting teen mothers with its Mi Casa/My Home program, and in 2005 the Teen Fathers program was brought back to GBAPP to work with parenting teen fathers.  In 2010 GBAPP was the only program working with teen fathers among the ten (10) programs to receive the Connecticut State Department of Social Services Fatherhood Program Certification for exemplifying the consistent, high quality delivery of services crucial to meeting the comprehensive needs of Connecticut’s fathers and families.

The goals of the program are to help non-custodial adolescent fathers connect with their child in a healthy and productive manner; model and teach them how to be involved in the child-rearing process; to continue their education on the secondary level and encourage post-secondary or vocational pursuits. These goals support decreasing subsequent pregnancies in adolescents and the reduction of sexually transmitted diseases. The Teen Fathers Program also helps the young teen fathers build healthier relationships with the child’s mother, reducing issues of domestic and dating violence; helps with demonstrating positive role modeling for their children; and explores community assets to support the development of teen parent and child.

The major services and activities that are provided include: in house individualized case management, group education sessions, linkage and referrals to medical, social services and home visits. The home visits are designed to teach the young father about child development, healthy relationships, and follow-up with school process.

The primary client group is young fathers up to the age of 23. Criteria for participation are being an expectant father within six-eight months before delivery (prenatal education and support), and young father up to the age of 23 in the Greater Bridgeport service area.

The group curriculum we use is adapted from the Fatherhood Initiative Curriculum to better fit the needs of the teen fathers. It is a 16 week program schedule which starts:

1) Program Overview and staff introduction; 2) Values/decision making; 3) Manhood; 4) Father’s Influence/Support Network; 5) Life Through my Child’s Eyes; 6) Communication; 7) Goals; Cup of Life; 9) Self-esteem; 10) Self Sufficiency; 11) Life Choices; 12) Whatever Happened to Daddy’s little girl; 13) Contributing as a Father in different ways; 14) Manhood to Fatherhood; 15) Guest Speaker from Child Advocacy office; 16) Graduation. We use a client-centered, strength-based approach, utilizing the client’s natural abilities and making use of the teachable moments for positive behavior modeling and teaching.

Why it Matters:

The percentage of children living in father-absent homes has more than tripled in the past 40 years. Poor school performance and high school drop out has become a characteristic of adolescent parents.

80% of children who do poorly in school are growing up without a dad.

95% of men in prison grew up without a dad.

Children growing up without a father are a least 2-3 times more likely to:

  • be poor
  • use drugs
  • be a victim of child abuse
  • experience educational, behavioral, and health problems
  • engage in criminal behavior

There are 24 million children growing up without their dad in the United States today.

GBAPP’s Teen Fathers Program is here to involve teen fathers with their children, keep fathers in school, strengthen their employment skills, and provide comprehensive support services.

Teen Fathers Round Table

Target Population: Parents under age 23

Group services are provided at six sites in the Bridgeport region:

  • GBAPP, Inc.
  • Bassick High School
  • Central High School
  • Harding High School
  • Harding at Night
  • Bullard Haven Technical High School

Services available:

  • Intensive individual care
  • Group education sessions
  • Linkage to other medical and social services

Presentations on:

  • Increasing self-knowledge
  • Building self-esteem
  • Parenting and life skills
  • Transition to manhood
  • Delaying further pregnancies
  • Healthy relationships

Program funded by the Connecticut Department of Social Services and Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention.

For more information, contact Saleh Hanaif, Program Coordinator at 203-366-8255 or shanaif@gbapp.org

Testimonial:

My name is Milton W. Jones Jr. and I am a member of the Teen Fathers Program in Bridgeport. For starters, we all know being a parent is one of, if not, the most difficult job one may endure. Myself, I am a proud father of a precious baby boy born in February 2012. When I found out I was going to be a father, I was at a loss for words. I wondered if I would be a father, as opposed to that man who isn’t around. My father wasn’t there for me, as he should have been during my adolescent years, so I took the initiative and knew I had to make it my destiny to never fall short as my father did. With various thoughts and emotions scrambling through my mind, I saw that I was pressed for time. My son was on his way, yet I didn’t have the slightest clue what to do. I was lost…but then a door opened. I was introduced to a man by the name of Sal Hanaif. He told me that he could help me become a successful father figure as well as teach me the skills and support needed to obtain this status. Right then and there, I knew this was my chance to get my priorities in order.

Sal explained that he was in charge of the Bridgeport Teen Fathers Program and that I should come and see what it has to offer. I accepted. During my first few sessions in the group, I was introduced to guys who were going through exactly what I was. I had a sense of relief knowing I wasn’t alone. As time progressed, a bond was created that I thought could never be established. I now had a place to vent, express, comment on and give my feelings on anything! This is what changed my life. I was going through hell and thought I’d never be able to rise above it. My mind was in a constant frenzy. I contemplated everyday trying to find a way to deal with my situation. (jail, drugs, etc.). If it had not been for this program, I think, as a matter of fact, I know I would have snapped and acted in a way I would regret for the rest of my life.

This program is needed everywhere there are teen fathers. It helped me maintain a positive state of mind and keep a level head. This program also helped me financially. Sal, my mentor and group leader, opened many doors and opportunities for me, whether it was supplying educational help, emotional and mental support or financial assistance. He was, and still is, available to me 24/7. I can now say I am proud of who I have become. I went from a lost troubled teen father to a man who sets a legacy as a father. All I want in this world is for my son to succeed and be the best he can be. In order for him to succeed, I have to set the foundation and lead the way. In June 2012 I graduated from Central High School maintaining a 3.45 GPA and am now attending the University of New Haven and majoring in Criminal Justice and Forensic Science with a minor in Accounting and Finance. This program also helped me apply for college and get situated with grants and scholarships.

In all, the Teen Fathers Program is the best thing that ever happened to me. I am on the right track with this program and I am never looking back.

To conclude, in 20 years, if someone asks my son, “What kind of father do you have?” I want him to say, “I have the best father in the world. He was always there for me, never left me alone, always showed me love, care, discipline and above all how to be a man. For that I want to thank him and the Program.