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Seattle Social Workers Capture City's Attention with Baby Jayden Dolls

Social workers placed Baby Jayden dolls, such as the one above, around Seattle to raise awareness about working conditions. (Charles Loeffler/Twitter)
Social workers placed Baby Jayden dolls, such as the one above, around Seattle to raise awareness about working conditions. (Charles Loeffler/Twitter)
May 19, 2016

SEATTLE - Dolls nicknamed Baby Jayden showed up on the streets of Seattle this week, capturing attention on social media and in the news. Social workers placed the dolls around town to represent the children waiting for care because of high caseloads for workers. Charles Loeffler, social service specialist with Washington State Children's Administration, says he and a coworker came up with the idea after a conference on mobilizing public support.

"We came up with this idea that, well, what if we actually had physical dolls to represent these children that are ultimately, at the end of the line, all the political decision making said and done, the people that are impacted," he said.

Loeffler is concerned that high caseloads and a high turnover rate could be affecting the children and families his department works with. There's also concern that, as the cost of living in King County goes up, social workers will struggle to keep up with rising costs.

The dolls garnered mostly positive feedback on social media. While Loeffler says this approach was able to gain attention for his profession, he is hoping other members of his union can also use social media to raise public awareness. The Washington Federation of State Employees represents workers from a broad spectrum of jobs across the state.

"They're doing important work as well, and what we need to do is start trying to figure out more ways to have their specific jobs, our specific jobs, and really hold up all of that, and all the very many diverse functions that state workers do," he added.

The Washington Federation of State Employees entered into bargaining with the state over compensation and working conditions this week. The union hopes to wrap up negotiations by September.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA