study center press   FEATURED BOOK

In A Day's Work
by Marjorie Beggs

Paperback, 80 pages
ISBN 0-936434-96-1

$14.95 plus $4.50 media rate or $6.50 UPS ground or priority mail. California residents add appropriate sales tax.

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What does a child welfare worker do? What makes this one of the most important and interesting jobs in social work?

In A Day's Work, published by the nonprofit Study Center Press, profiles four outstanding child welfare workers in California. Author Marjorie Beggs extensively interviewed each social worker and followed them around on the job, accompanied them on supervised parental visits, sexual abuse investigations, and into the court system. The result is a lively, journalistic account of individual case worker motivations, concerns, failures, and triumphs.

How This Book Came About

In A Day's Work grew out of a project undertaken by the 12,000-member California chapter of the National Association of Social Workers to recognize accomplishments of child welfare workers and to portray their work realistically for people who are considering a career in social work. Sixteen county Social Services departments statewide were asked to nominate successful full-time child welfare workers. Nominees responded to questionnaires and participated in focus groups; four were chosen to be profiled in In A Day's Work.

The Four Child Welfare Workers

Clara Zamora, Emergency Response, Sexual Abuse Unit, San Francisco:

"As one of two Hispanic child welfare workers in our department, I'm in close contact with my people and the community, teaching them how to work with the system and get the services they need. If the system can't provide the services, I advocate for them until I get the services."

Susan Sontag-Cristano, Court Dependency Unit, Riverside County:

"I do manipulate the system. You have to, or you couldn't do your work. To get a family into a shelter, I'd beg, borrow, steal, exaggerate about how good the kids are. It's Grovel 101."

David Weinreich, Permanency Planning Unit, Los Angeles County:

"I tend to err on the side of the child. If I'm wrong, and I have been, then I'm wrong, but at least I've taken precautions. In my experience, children tell the truth."

Barbara Williams, Court Officer, Contra Costa County:

"We hold a family's future when we make a recommendation to the court, and having that power has been a difficult part of this job. Still, if you're looking for a chance to be of service and make a difference in some folks' lives, it's a good occupation.

About the Author

Marjorie Beggs is senior staff writer of the San Francisco Study Center. She is the author of 15 monographs on human service programs, including Family Preservation Programs, Foster Families as Partners in Therapy, and Foster Kids' Survival Groups: Lessons from a Mental Health-Social Services Collaboration. Her articles have appeared in Cooperative Learning, Refugees, NABE News , San Francisco Examiner California Living magazine, and other periodicals.