A couple waiting to take home a baby born to a surrogate mother, a girl who was raped, and an imprisoned woman who recently gave birth are among the more than 150 people being forced to wait until the social workers strike is over before receiving the help they seek.

All have been rejected by the exceptions committee, which is focusing only on cases that could be life-threatening if social workers don't provide immediate assistance.

"We are approving instances in which there is a clear danger to someone's life," said Rachel Vidal, the director of a municipal social services bureau and chairperson of the 13-member exceptions committee.

Just four cases approved

The committee approved just four cases yesterday, the first day of the strike called by social workers to protest their low wages.

Two women seeking placement in a battered women's shelter had their requests approved, including a mother of a 2-year-old boy whose obsessive and violent neighbor is due to be released from jail today.

The neighbor is not cooperating with therapists and has threatened the woman, 23, saying that when he is released, "the party will be over."

The committee also approved a request for a social worker to help a suicidal girl in a psychiatric hospital.

In one case, the committee granted permission for a woman to appear before an abortion committee (which must legally include a social worker ) and granted her request for an abortion.

Another woman seeking to appear before an abortion committee was rejected, however, because she is in the early stages of pregnancy and her life is not considered to be at risk, the committee said.