Photo from "Fighting
to Care: California's Social Workers SEIU 535"
Exhibit at U.C. Berkeley Institute of Industrial Relations 1/15-7/15 2002, photo 3 of 12
Jann Noddin, Family Preservation Worker, with Erica (1991)
Being able to talk to someone who understands can make the difference between abused children healing and becoming healthy, functioning adults or turning to violence and self-destructive behavior. For many abused and neglected children, their social worker is the only one there to listen and help.
When social worker Jann Noddin first met 13-year-old Erica, Erica had been abandoned by her mother and left without food for 4 days. Jann was able to find her a new home with her aunt and uncle. With the love and support of her new parents, and Jann's counseling, Erica started to trust the world again and was able to confront the painful experiences of her past.
ERICA: "Me and my little brother don't know who our dads are, so my mom would use other guys to be our fathers. She'd go to bars every night and invite a lot of guys over and all of a sudden they were our new dad. Finally she quit that and all of a sudden we were church-o-mania. We would go to church all the time. But her last husband, he would beat her up, and he molested me from when I was 7 years old until I was 11. And then after a while, I told on him. To clue that I was molested, I acted kind of strange. And I didn't do a lot of my homework, and I was off in my own land, my own planet."
JANN: "When I first met her, I validated that what she'd already gone through might have been scary or traumatic. I don't expect a child to trust me right away, especially an abused or neglected child, but I work to earn their trust over a period of time."
ERICA: "At first when she came along I wasn't sure of her. She was like, 'Hi,' and I was like, 'I don't think so.' I didn't want her for my counselor or a social worker. It took a while to get to know her better and trust her, and now she's like one of my best friends. She always tries to be there for me as much as she can.
"It's sad when I hear little kids get molested
and nobody pays attention to them. It makes me so mad that nobody's
giving them any attention. That is what social workers are for,
and why they need them."