Manny Oliveira and Vani Sanmuganathan: Child and Family Social Workers
To do our job, you have to be passionate about protecting children and working with families.
Local 47 - Civil Service, Social Sciences Component
It’s a story that never fails to make headlines: A Manitoba child has been abused in their own home. For Manny Oliveira and Vani Sanmuganathan, the disturbing reality of families in crisis is one they live, day in and day out.
“To do our job, you have to be passionate about protecting children and working with families,” says Oliveira. “Social services in general are so overloaded and many parents don’t even know where to start to get the help they need for themselves and their children.”
Child and Family Social Workers first get assigned a family through the All Nations Crisis Response Network. For these social workers, every day is different.
“Some days we have little choice but to apprehend children from the home as a matter of safety,” says Sanmuganathan. “But much of our time is spent helping parents access the supports and skills they need to keep their family strong and together.”
A key part of the job involves connecting struggling families with other community agencies and resources, such as the Manitoba Adolescent Treatment Centre, that can build up support in the family home.
“Many of the families we deal with are terribly disenfranchised,” Oliveira says. “Sometimes, these parents and children need someone to advocate on their behalf. We regularly work closely with a whole host of community resources, including police officers, probations officers, counselors and doctors.”
Home visits are also a regular part of their day. Such visits allow social workers to assess how the family is functioning and whether further action must be taken.
“Sometimes, these actions are fairly minor,” says Sanmuganathan. “A respite worker assigned to a stressed parent, for instance, can make a real difference.”
“But at the end of the day,” Oliveira adds, “our job is about ensuring all Manitoba kids are as safe as possible. Every kid deserves a chance to realize their potential."