Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Single dad worries about keeping family together

Citizen Staff Writer



Martin Carrillo wants one thing in his life – to keep his family together.

After slapping his 10-year-old son, Michael, last year, Carrillo, 43, nearly lost him to Arizona’s Child Protective Services.

But CPS saw hope that Carrillo, a single dad raising three kids, could do what he needed to keep his family together. So it provided counseling and in-home services to strengthen this family.

Now many of the services are going away after drastic state budget cuts. Carrillo wonders what will become of his family.

“I’m afraid of losing my kids,” he said.

He worries about son Michael, who suffers from mental illness.

Michael is diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactive disorder and depression. He experiences hallucinations and hears voices. He tried to hang himself at age 5.

“He has all the traits of schizophrenia, but they won’t diagnose because of his age,” said Carrillo, a night security guard.

The child struggled to control his anger and has been arrested three times, once for hitting a relative in the face with a soda can.

Through individual and family counseling over the past three months, Michael has been able to control his anger, Carrillo said. Counseling has also helped son Martin, 11, who has ADHD, and daughter Amber, 8.

But Carrillo found out last week the family counseling and in-home visits provided by Child & Family Resources with state funding had been cut.

“Without these services, it’s going to be hard,” Carrillo said. “They were helping me manage all this.”

Carrillo knows he was at fault for striking Michael after the child used profanity in the car.

“I reacted the wrong way. I know better. I slapped Michael’s face and gave him a bloody nose.”

When Michael told a teacher, the school “did what they had to do,” Carrillo said, and CPS was called.

But CPS “has done everything in their power to keep us together,” Carrillo said.

Counseling was helping, all in the family agree.

“It was bringing us a lot closer,” Carrillo said. “It stopped me from yelling so much and it taught me how to listen to my kids.”

He’s worried the loss of family counseling could throw Michael into a tailspin.

“I’ll probably be getting mad more often,” Michael said. “I don’t like it.”

Carrillo said he will do anything he can to keep his family together. “We have lots of love. But we need help.”

He thinks counseling and in-home services are the answer.

“When I first started counseling, I didn’t think it would help,” said Carrillo, who believes he has depression. “But having someone to talk to about your problems, it really helps.”

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