In addition to working with client families, the staff liaises with other non-profit organizations, such as domestic violence shelters, residential treatment centers, along with state and county officials concerned with children’s welfare. Defenders of Children works with families to provide information and referrals, and social services including trauma-informed, free counseling for victims. Defenders offers legal services for client-families that meet grant eligibilty, and possible forensic and expert witness services when children and their families have exhausted available resources through public service groups, yet the children remain at risk (see Family or Legal Services). Defenders of Children also interfaces as needed with such agencies as the Attorney General’s Office, AZ State Bar, Family and Juvenile Courts, the Department of Child Safety, and State Legislators.
Defenders of Children
- Protect victims of crimes including domestic/family/sexual violence and/or child abuse with grant funding eligibility
- Ensure children receive the rights and legal protections to which they are entitled
- Provide specialized trauma therapy for victims of family violence by expert clinicians
- Identify and address inadequacies in the child protection and legal systems as we seek to identify them
- Bring about beneficial changes in those systems by encouraging positive changes in guidelines, protocols, and laws to ensure the safety of non-offending families and well-being of children
- Conduct educational trainings for the community and professionals involved in child protection, domestic violence awareness/advocacy and partners in victim services
- Provide court-ordered supervised parenting time services to help reunite and heal parents and children in a safe, therapeutic environment
Johanna Fierstein, MSW
David J. Newstone, Esq.
Director of Legal Services
Sharla Denton, MC, LPC, CCTP
Director of Clinical Services & Trauma Therapist
Family Law Paralegal
Deziree Rodarte, LMSW
Liz Avila, MSW
Helpline Advocate (bilingual English/Spanish)
Sue Ann Springer
Senior Family Law Paralegal
Board of Directors
Trish Leon, CDFA
Secretary & Treasurer
Dick Geasland, LCSW
Judge (Ret.) Penny Willrich
Chief Financial Officer
Annette Ruskin, LCSW
Annette Ruskin, LCSW
Volunteer Therapist, Forensics Expert (bilingual English/Spanish)
Dr. Faren Akins
Dan Riley, Esq.
David Weinstock, J.D., Ph. D.
Kelly Mendoza, Esq.
Alisa Gray, Esq.
This project is supported in part by Grant No. 2016-VA-GX-0046 from the US Department of Justice-Office for Victims of Crime. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the US DOJ or the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
Defenders of Children delivers services and employs without regard for race, religion, color, sex, age, marital status, disability, citizenship, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or national origin. If you believe you have been discriminated against, please email our Civil Rights Contact, at DNewstone@defendersofchildren.org for assistance.