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Never Quit winner is California social services worker who helped solve a kidnapping

Photo credit: Getty Images
By Pablo Ros ·
Never Quit winner is California social services worker who helped solve a kidnapping
Diana Corral (Member provided-photo)

Before the interview was over, Diana Corral suspected something wasn’t right.

An employment eligibility specialist with the Orange County, California, Social Services Agency, Corral was helping a mother who had applied to receive cash assistance through CalWORKs. The woman said her daughter lived with her, but when Corral asked her which school she went to, the mother’s tone and demeanor changed.

“She became very aggressive towards me,” Corral recalls. “She went off on a tangent about how she didn’t believe in the public school system and was homeschooling her daughter. I told her I understood her choice but that I still needed to know if she was doing homeschooling through the school district or using some sort of online program. She wouldn’t answer my questions directly.”

As their conversation progressed, there were more red flags. When Corral informed her that as part of the cash assistance program, a child support case would have to be opened against the absent parent, the woman said she didn’t want the father to be involved.

“Something strange is going on here,” Corral recalls thinking. Right away, she asked an investigator to look into the case.

Social services workers must balance the public’s interest in preventing fraud with their clients’ interest in receiving the benefits they are entitled to. After the woman submitted all of the required documentation, her application was approved. But Corral had a sense that the story wasn’t over.

“When I received the report back from the investigator, it turned out that the mother had kidnapped the child from the father back in January, and there was already a warrant out for her arrest for kidnapping,” she says. “This is very rare. In my 18 years, I’d never seen anything like this. I still wonder what trauma that poor kid has gone through.”

For her service to her community, Corral, a member and president of AFSCME Local 2076 (Council 36), is a winner of our union’s Never Quit Service Award.

“Diana’s thoroughness, attention to detail and professionalism were directly responsible for returning this child home,” says Hanh Le, a colleague in the Social Services Agency who nominated Corral for the award. “That was phenomenal on her part. She not only helped prevent fraud but helped reunite a child with her father.”

Sara Ghanbariami, another colleague who nominated Corral for the award, says she is inspired by the empathy that Corral brings to her work.

“Diana is perfect for social work,” says Ghanbariami, who met Corral through their union. “She sees the point of everything that she does. To her, it’s not about going through a checklist. It’s about taking the time to listen, to make sure she is helping the people who have the genuine luxury of being her clients.”

Asked what motivates her to go above and beyond, Corral admits that she enjoys helping others.

“Before coming to work for the County of Orange as a social worker, I worked in a nursing home, and before that I was a preschool teacher,” she says. “I’ve always enjoyed helping others. It kind of runs in my family. If you look at the careers that people in my family have chosen, they are either nurses or have worked in nursing homes or pursued military service. Taking care of others is like a family business.”

Never Quit Service Awards

Know a co-worker who goes above and beyond the call of duty to make their community better? Nominate them for AFSCME’s Never Quit Service Award.

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