On The Case: Mesa County child welfare caseworker serves families in her hometown

August 6, 2021

Two years ago, 24-year-old Marisa Arrieta launched her career as a child welfare caseworker with the Mesa County Department of Human Services. Marisa was born and raised in Grand Junction and earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Colorado Mesa University. She finds deep meaning in serving the community she has called home her whole life.

Marisa was drawn to the job of caseworker because as a child she witnessed first-hand what it was like for a family to encounter the child welfare system when her cousin was removed from their home and eventually adopted by a family member. Marisa knows the difference a caseworker can make in the lives of children and families, and she wanted to help ensure that kids’ voices are heard. “I am here to help families,” said Marisa. “I don’t want to be seen as ‘the system,’ I am someone who connects families with the resources they need.”

Marisa’s favorite part of her job is building relationships with families and children and she finds deep satisfaction in seeing families reunify. She also appreciates her colleagues at Mesa County and the support and comradery she has found with her team.

Aside from the satisfaction and meaning, she finds in her work, Marisa has found that being a caseworker has good job benefits as well including schedule flexibility, health insurance and opportunities to continue her education through regular training. 

“There’s no other job out there like the caseworker role,” said Marisa. “Every experience is so different, and there is so much learning and growing that will follow you throughout your life. I have the freedom to be the caseworker I want to be and I know I am making a difference for children and families.”

Marisa believes that in order to be a successful caseworker, one should be honest, transparent, empathetic and be able to balance being a support for someone while also being firm about what needs to be done.

Joe Kellerby, Mesa County Child Welfare/Adult Protection Director, believes that Marisa encompasses all of those traits and more. “Marisa is the true definition of compassion and kindness for our families in need,” said Joe. “She is dedicated to her job and an asset for the Mesa County team.”

This post is part of the CO4Kids On The Case blog series that shares insights from Colorado child welfare caseworkers about the important work they do and why they chose a career in social work.

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