A local dad finally formed a relationship with his little girl and it changed both their lives

Jesse Jimenez Father and DCSS customer

There was a responsible father locked somewhere inside Jesse Jimenez. It just took a little help to find the key.

After several years, Jesse found his way into the life of his daughter, Emily. The assistance of the San Bernardino County Department of Child Support Services and the open heart and mind of Emily’s mother have changed the lives of Jesse and Emily.

“It has made me a whole person,” Jesse says. Jesse is brutally honest about the person he used to be. An unplanned pregnancy at a time when Jesse was trying to manage alcohol and drug issues was more than he was ready to handle.

“I was not the most responsible person,” he says. “I tried to brush it under the rug and ignore my responsibilities.”

“(DCSS staff) were more human. They weren’t law enforcement. They weren’t the devils I had in my mind.”

Jesse Jimenez and his daughter Emily | PHOTOS COURTESY OF JESSE JIMENEZ

The result, from the courts, was not forgiving. “They hit me with the max amount (of child support). And I don’t blame them,” he says. “Nobody likes to have their checks cut in half.”

Getting sober in 2018 was the first step in changing Jesse’s life. He then began to look into fixing things with his daughter, and what he found in dealing with Child Support Services surprised him.

 “They were more human,” he says. “They weren’t law enforcement. They weren’t the devils I had in my mind.”

Working with the office, Jesse was able to have his monthly contribution reduced to a more manageable number. Later, Emily’s mother initiated a move to further reduce it. But the financial improvement wasn’t the real reward for Jesse.

His relationship with Emily began with a picnic, arranged by Emily’s mother. It was an emotional start to a new chapter in both their lives.

“It was a blessing that she took a liking to me right away,” he says. “I thought maybe she would hold a grudge for me not being there. But we hit it off right away. “And I became a dad.” Jesse says Emily is “a real laidback kid. She likes to draw and write.” And Jesse is thankful for a future that now includes watching Emily grow up.

“You know, it’s kind of hard to wrap my head around,” he says. “But I’m in dad mode now. She is looking up to me and I know I have that responsibility.”