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.