During her 24-year tenure as an attorney representing parents and children in dependency and related cases, new FIC board member Sabrina Ayers Fisher has noticed a common theme play out again and again.
“Families are the essential building blocks of our communities,” she said, “When we have healthy, safe families, we have communities that are thriving.”
Working with parents and their children is Sabrina’s passion. Although she joined the board in October 2021, her connection with FIC started in 2016 when she met parent allies through the Maricopa County Juvenile Court.
The court sponsored HOPE program classes, which were led by parent allies, featured court personnel and other professionals, to teach parents about what to expect in dependency proceedings. When the court lost funding for the HOPE classes, FIC found funding to continue them.
The HOPE program evolved into a broader multi-disciplinary team approach that encompassed various services, legal/court, social workers, and parent peer navigators, to create better outcomes in dependency cases. This approach has proved very successful.
“Many of the parent peer navigators were from the Family Involvement Center, who also worked on the HOPE project,” Sabrina remembered. “We’re seeing a lot of success on how we support parents going through dependency. Family Involvement Center is a very key part to those creative ways that are enhancing parent representation.”
When parents come into the DCS system, they get overwhelmed with the process. Many also don’t know where to find their children. For Sabrina, she’s able to be involved with helping parents pull their lives back together.
These parents often haven’t had positive parenting role models. So besides learning better parenting practices, they also have to deal with challenges such as substance abuse, mental health or getting a job.
“I see the humanity of the process and see these people loving their children,” Sabrina added. “I don’t think we give the parents who are successful in reunifying enough credit for what that really takes.”
Although she no longer interacts with FIC staff due to her current job, Sabrina became a board member because she believes in the mission. She wants to focus on educating the public about FIC’s services and getting more parents to know that there is a group ready and able to help them and their children.
After all, Sabrina’s greatest joy is on those days in court when parents are reunited with their children.
“When I see parents and children healthy and happy and overjoyed, it reaffirms for me why I do the work I do and why I’m a lawyer,” she said.