By Erica Apodaca
As the twelve-year-old boy cried for his mother’s love and presence,
Maya’s heart slowly split in two. Maya recalls the young boy crying and saying, “He just wanted to go home and be with his mom, he didn’t care about food, or clothes, or shelter.”
This is just one of the many heart-wrenching cases Autumn Maya, Supervisor for the Maricopa County Office of the Legal Defender Juvenile Dependency and Severance Unit, has had to watch unravel before her eyes.
Holding this position it is Maya’s job to provide supervision of the support staff, monitor daily activities, delegating work, and monitoring performance. She is also the Unit Supervising Deputy Legal Defender, which entails assisting administrative tasks, schedule appointments; conduct interviews, draft legal documents and much more. Maya is also responsible for supervision of eleven staff members. Including six Case Managers, one Legal Secretary, one Assignment Desk Coordinator and three Clerks.
Autumn Maya speaks of what she considers the hardest type of cases, “All of the cases that pass through this office are difficult to handle because there is abuse of some sort in the home, either physical or sexual and those always make me very upset. However, the ones that are the most difficult are when the parents do not try to get the children back.”
During her time with the organization Maya has seen about forty percent of children get reunited with their parents and roughly another twenty percent under the care of a family member.
She states, “The most common reasons for a child to be taken into care are failure to parent due to neglect or substance abuse.”
After all is said and done and years on the job, it is clear to Maya that, “The most rewarding part of my job is when parents that truly want their children, are able to remedy their situation and are reunited with their children.”