Father’s Day is Sunday.
For that reason, 17 News highlighted a few local fathers that many community members have called inspirational.
According to the Kern County Department of Human Services, approximately 133 families and 262 children have been reunified by the Kern County Superior Court.
Jerome Piper, a Kern County resident, is just one among hundreds of parents that have been reunified with their children through the court system.
A news release written by the Kern County Superior Court said “Reunification is the Department of Human Services number one goal for all families.”
17 News Vanessa Dillon sat down with Piper, to learn more about his experience going through the program, as well as how he overcame obstacles so he could gain custody of his daughter back.
“It’s allowed me to reunify in so many levels of my life,” Piper said. “I have two kids from a previous marriage and I’m back in their lives. I’m back in my family’s life. Ultimately, I’m back in my younger daughter’s life.”
Louie Vega is a judge for Kern County Superior Court. He’s also one key player behind the program that has helped parents like Piper reunify with their children.
“You see the joy and relief of a family when they know they are finally going to have their children home,” Vega said.
The day Vega, a father himself, witnesses reunions is known as Family Reunification Day in Kern County.
“It’s a time where you self-reflect,” Vega said. “Are you the father you wanted for your child?”
The Superior Court of Kern County, Department of Human Services and several other agencies work together to celebrate the day a child goes home to their family.
“It’s nice to see father’s,” Vega said. “When you’re involved in the celebration, you see [that they’ve] made that decision. They are not going to be the father that perhaps they were raised by. [They] are going to be the father that they wanted for their children.”
Piper said the process toward gaining custody of his daughter again was trying.
However, he said the obstacles he encountered only gave him more faith in a system that cheered him on along the way.
Piper said he has continued to make efforts toward a better future.
According to Piper, he is now a substance-use disorder counselor, and has started a Facebook page for fathers going through reunification in Kern County.