Mohave Superior Court Judge Richard Weiss was honored in Phoenix Saturday (March 11) with the Sue Gilbertson Leadership Award for his leadership in coordinating a court team aimed at improving outcomes for young children in foster care.
The award is named after the Founder of Mentally Ill Kids In Distress, a statewide organization that works to improve the behavioral health and wellness of children in Arizona. CEO Dick Geasland said Weiss was honored, in part, for his leadership in the development of the Parent Support Now pilot program that began in 2015 in Kingman. He said the program has not only been successful in obtaining permanency for many zero to three year olds removed by the Department of Child Safety, but is serving as a model for similar efforts across the state. The project is a partnership between the courts, MIKID, Mohave Mental Health Clinic, Southwest Behavior Health, the Department of Child Services, Health Choice Integrated Care, as well as many other community partners who serve the region.
Weiss also leads the Zero to Three Court Team Model through the Mohave County Infant and Toddler Mental Health Court Team. The program, which is funded locally by the First Things First La Paz/Mohave Regional Partnership Council, targets young children under the age of five. Geasland said that the training and educational programs set up by the Mohave County Court Team has greatly improved the professional and public understanding of the medical, dental emotional, developmental, and educational needs of this vulnerable population.
Geasland said Judge Weiss is described by those who experience him in court as a Judge that takes a holistic approach to working with families involved in the court system.
“Judge Weiss looks at the big picture, not just what is happening at the present time,” he said. “He looks to see if there will be other related issues and unforeseen consequences for families based on his decisions.”
Judge Weiss was appointed in 1996 to the Mohave County Bench as a Commissioner – Judge Pro Tempore to handle primarily domestic relations actions. In July of 1998, he was appointed Judge Pro Tempore for the newly created Division 6 of the Mohave County Superior Court.
Weiss said it was his work in the juvenile courts working with teenage offenders that inspired him to want to work towards prevention at a younger age rather than intervention when problems have already taken root.