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Introduction During the last week of October 2005, a single topic dominated the headlines and primetime news in Turkey: debates over how to reform the state social work system. The heated debates were triggered by secret camera footage, broadcast on a national channel, of caregivers' physical violence towards children in a residential home run by the state social work agency, the Social Services and Children's Protection Agency (SSCPA). (1) These heated debates were informed by and fed back into the ongoing restructuring of state-sponsored social work, crystallized in the Return to the Family Project which aims to return institutionalized children to their families. The period when this shift from state-provided institutional care to familial care began also corresponded to Prime Minister Erdogan's invocation of stories of the "strong Turkish family." These stories pointed to a nurturing three-generational extended family--specifically contrasted with the presumed weakness of familial ties in "the West"--to pose "the Turkish family" as the best agent to provide social protection and lift "social burdens" on the state. Around the same time, female clients who pass through the welfare orbit--such as Aysen and Gulsum, whose stories I discuss below--were seeking help in social work offices precisely because their family experiences were in stark contrast to those put at the center of political rhetoric and policy-making.