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The DES Case Worker

Nicole Tegman and Zachary Marrufo, Department of Economic Services caseworkers (Photo by Luige del Puerto/Arizona Capitol Times)

Nicole Tegman and Zachary Marrufo, Department of Economic Services caseworkers (Photo by Luige del Puerto/Arizona Capitol Times)

Just fresh out of high school, Nicole Tegman was working as a bank teller in Long Island, New York, a job she didn’t particularly enjoy, when a neighbor suggested that she explore a job at an agency that was providing for the neighbor’s child’s development disability needs. She ended up in a group support environment. “I absolutely fell in love with it,” she said, adding that also led her to pursue a degree in human services. “This is my calling. This is what I want to do with my life.”

So, when she moved to Arizona, Nicole became a caseworker at the Arizona Department of Economic Security’s Division of Developmental Disabilities in the area of support coordination.

Today, Nicole is among roughly 4,900 DES caseworkers who toil daily to ensure that the state’s most vulnerable citizens have access to critical care and programs.

Case management is no cakewalk, and as Chandler native Zachary Marrufo, another caseworker at the development disabilities unit, would attest, there are moments when the gravity of their work crystalizes.

It happened to him a few months into the job. “I was driving home and it just really hit me how much our work really affects the members,” he said. “From that point out, my work just started getting better. I started just being more passionate about the job.”

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