For the Children: Accounting for Careers in Child Protective Services

By Morris, Joan | Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, June 2005 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

For the Children: Accounting for Careers in Child Protective Services


Morris, Joan, Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare


This paper analyzes autobiographical essays from women who work as social service workers in child-protection agencies. Working long hours in relatively low-paying jobs, these women have limited prestige and autonomy and increasingly, come under close scrutiny and public criticism. They are clearly exploited in terms of the emotional and "mothering" labor they are expected to perform and are held personally accountable for daily decisions that could have dire consequences for the children they serve to protect. This paper is an investigation of how their narratives explain and justify their willingness to continue working in these situations and how their professional identities are defined and defended.

Keywords: social service, women, labor, children, narrative

DCF in the News

"A year ago this month, Erica Jones was a 27-year-old woman with a bachelor's degree in political science. She had just enrolled in a two-month training program on how to become a state child welfare counselor. By the time she was fired by the state Department of Children and Families last week, Jones was handling 50 child abuse investigations, even though she had been on the job less than a year and lacked full certification as an investigator."

St. Petersburg Times, July 17, 2002

"Two workers with the Department of Children & Families resigned Wednesday, the same day that 13-month-old Christopher Cunningham died. It was the third child homicide this year in Brevard County, each preceded by apparent mistakes by child-welfare workers. "It seems evident that high-quality casework has not been occurring in Brevard County," DCF spokeswoman Yvonne Vassel said."

Orlando Sentinel, March 15, 2003

"Embattled Department of Children & Families Secretary Kathleen Kearney resigned Tuesday; four months after the case of a missing 5-year-old girl put the department under scrutiny."

South Florida Sun Sentinel, August 13, 2002

"The family says DCF is trying to cover it tracks because someone dropped the ball." We are not satisfied with DCF's conclusion that it properly handled the Behazadpour matter. I question their policies and practices handling sexual abuse cases of children, particularly that of Nikki's case," says a family spokesperson."

WFTV.com, January 26, 2004

DCF Workers Beleaguered and Belittled

These are the stories that appear almost weekly in local newspapers. Florida's Department of Children and Families (DCF) workers are regularly vilified, not only in newspapers but on radio and television stations as well. The resignation of DCF head, Kathleen Kearney, even made the national news (NBC Nightly News, August 13, 2002). Given the demanding working conditions and bad press, it is no wonder that there is a high turnover rate among DCF's child protection workers. More surprising, however, is that some stay--and in fact, the distribution is bimodal. There are many who come and leave quickly but there is also a surprising number who have worked for DCF for many years.

Introduction

It is this latter group that concerns us here, the people who continue to work in an environment where overwork (50-60 hours a week) and under-pay ($31K average) is typical, the responsibility is overwhelming (caseloads of 50 or more), and there is little appreciation--either among the clients they attend or the public they serve. Why do they do it? How do they explain their willingness to continue participating in a system that all agree is dysfunctional? What accounts do they offer for the apparent contradiction between their own best interest and their willingness to serve? In this paper, I present child protective worker's stories, in their own words, their accounts of how they got where they are and why they stay. In addition, I place these accounts within a larger theoretical context that helps to explain their tolerance of the contradictions inherent to their situations by way of a set of counterstories constructed to prevent or repair damage to their individual identities.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

For the Children: Accounting for Careers in Child Protective Services
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.