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Sonia Babyak: Permanent Ward Worker
My favourite part of what I do is building relationships with the children and young adults that I work with.
Sonia Babyak is a Permanent Ward Worker for Winnipeg Child and Family Services (WCFS – MGEU Local 47). She’s been doing the job for almost five years and was a Family Service Worker for eight years before that.
“My favourite part of what I do is building relationships with the children and young adults that I work with,” says Sonia.
But with a caseload that averages about 30 individuals, it’s not an easy task. She is the legal guardian of the children in her care, which means that Sonia provides many of the traditional tasks that any caregiver would: arranging and attending school meetings and medical appointments, paying bills, providing guidance and direction, and giving children a place to feel comfortable and share their feelings.
Communication is key as she spends a lot of her time helping them navigate the complexities of life by talking one-on-one, over the phone, and via text message.
Guiding young adults who are between the ages of 18 and 21 is another important part of the job. When Sonia started at WCFS the ability to extend kids in care beyond the age of 18 was just beginning.
Back when Sonia was a Family Service Worker, she identified a policy problem for these young adults.
“Basically, when children become wards they are required to have their home authority’s address on their medical cards, not their home address. In certain situations [like receiving medical treatment] they have to show their card and disclose that they are in care,” says Sonia. “This was sometimes problematic because it made it difficult for them to get photo IDs and it prevented some from voting because they didn’t have any form of identification with their home address on it.”
After five years of lobbying and working diligently on this issue, Sonia’s determination paid off –as of June of this year, these young adults are allowed to have their own address on their medical cards.
For Sonia the lesson learned was that if you are passionate and persistent about an issue, you can make change happen.
Sonia is the co-chair of the Joint Consultation Committee for WCFS, and she is doing her part to be a bridge between management and her fellow MGEU members.