The grant will be used to support six weeks of interviews and library and archival research which, in turn, will form the foundation for Poor Judgments, a fictional account of a children's service agency in a welfare department in a large rural Ohio county in the late 1970s. The narrative will follow three social workers through their daily rounds of child abuse and neglect investigation, family support and foster care, with intertwining story lines tracing individual cases. In turn, these client stories will be bound together in a darkly comic plot focused on the workings of the petty bureaucracy which is the children's service agency itself and the local juvenile justice system. The plot will turn on the juvenile court judge who presides over all child welfare cases in the county, as her rulings progress from the frivolous and idiosyncratic to the high-handed to the outright autocratic and despotic, until they climax in an egregious injustice. Interviews with six current/former case workers and two juvenile probation officers will increase my store of striking anecdotes about individual cases and the subculture of social service; interviews with judges, lawyers, and others will help me understand policy and procedure, as will attendance at several juvenile court hearings. Additional research will focus on land-mark cases, social work practice and protocol, court procedures and judicial ethics, while archival work will allow me to investigate one locally notorious case from the early 1980s surrounding a miscarriage of justice by a local juvenile judge.