This month of April Border Eco introduces Marie Montenegro-Ochoa Department of Child Safety Program Supervisor. She is a Nogales native who graduated from the Nogales High School in 1986. Ms. Montenegro-Ochoa completed an associate’s degree at Pima Community College and then completing a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at Northern Arizona University. She has been working for the Department of Child Safety for over 18 years in September. She has witnessed throughout the years the many changes the state has made within the Department of Child Safety. “The system has improved the way they work with families, their main goal has always been to keep families together. They work at a local level to help children, youth, and families find the support and resources they need,” said Ms. Montenegro-Ochoa.
Ms. Montenegro early in her career knew the type of work she wanted to be involved with. She first started working as an instructional aide with special education at the Santa Cruz Unified School District. While working as an instructional aide, she had an opportunity to work directly with a caseworker from child protective services.
Ms. Montenegro-Ochoa at that time knew this was a career she wanted to explore. When an opening with child protective services became available she immediately applied for it and was offered the position of case manager. Throughout the years she has learned about the importance of helping parents become better parents as it has long-lasting effects on the development of children and youth. This is reflected in her persistence to ensure the local DCS office works closely with children, youth and families to provide the best quality of care. “I have gained a lot of skills and knowledge working in this field, it has helped me personally as a mother, grandmother, and community member,” said Ms. Montenegro-Ochoa.
Marie Montenegro-Ochoa work within the community has become extremely noticeable. She has become a beacon of change. She has always worked hard to help protect children, youth, and families in our community. One of her main accomplishments in Santa Cruz County is having started the Annual Child Abuse Walkathon, which helps to provide child abuse awareness. “I am extremely grateful to my staff for their continued support. They work hard every day to ensure we provide the best quality of care.I am also grateful to the many local organizations we work with to help ensure our children and youth are safe and thriving,” said Ms. Montenegro-Ochoa.