MCFD (Newton) Child Protection Social Work (Team Lead)
Raynu & Jeevan
Child Protection Social Workers
Separation is the most dangerous time for women and children fleeing violence.
Ronnie, a support worker at Surrey Women’s Centre, is in a unique position. She works with Jay and the rest of his team of child protection social workers at the Ministry of Child & Family Development in Surrey. Together, they respond to the safety needs of mothers and their children.
According to Jay, Team Leader at Surrey’s Newton office, “Ronnie isn’t someone from Surrey Women’s Centre who shows up once in awhile. Ronnie is a part of our team". He says, “once we started to partner with Surrey Women’s Centre, we were in a partnership with an agency whose primary purpose is to support women and help keep them safe. That’s changed our consciousness of how we do things.”
“By sharing my experience, I helped them see that for many women, the choice between staying or leaving is a choice between being beaten or starving,” says Ronnie.
Jay adds, “we’re coming to terms with what the consequences are to children, how to evaluate the severity of it, and how to respond to it.”
Child protection social workers, Raynu and Jeevan talk about how their work has changed.
Raynu dispels the myth that “women should just leave” by discussing the challenges of immigrant women: “It’s easy to say if you have extended family, and you’ve got the supports of parents, grandparents, siblings, and financial support from other places – but if it’s just you and your partner, and you’re new to the country – it’s a scary place”.
For Jeevan, their partnership with Surrey Women’s Centre connects women with the support that they need. “When they have someone that’s able to help them build up their confidence to take the necessary steps, then they will do that. Sometimes we get involved more than once with a particular family, but what I have noticed is when Ronnie is involved many of these women are not as fearful to pick up the phone to call for help.”
Jeevan describes how the team draws on the strengths of non-offending family members to safety plan. “You are the experts on your family—what do you think needs to happen and how do you see it happening?” By including the family in the decision-making process, Jeevan adds, “We’re not assuming. We’re taking the time to listen to people’s stories to get a full understanding.”
Looking back on the partnership, Jay admits “It’s working far beyond what I thought it would….I think we are doing better job today than we were a year ago.” Raynu adds, “I feel like the women and even the children are much more educated on what to do. So even if we step out of the picture, they know what steps to take. They know who to call. They know what their rights are. So if something did happen, we feel a little bit more confident that they know how to keep themselves safe or take the next step.”
Ronnie shares, “The reality is that everyone involved just wants to keep women and their children safe in whatever way possible. Sometimes that means supporting a woman if she chooses to leave, but sometimes it simply means helping to make her safer if she chooses to stay. We’re all experts in our own ways – especially the women who we work with. No one understands a woman’s experience of violence better than she does.”