August 2017 Connects E-News

Community Comes out for FamJam 2017

   More than 6,000 people attended FamJam, an outdoor family enrichment festival co-sponsored by FCCS and Mayor Andrew J. Ginther, for the 7th consecutive year. The free event was a huge success at the John F. Wolfe Columbus Commons on Aug. 5 and included a fun, free day of food, entertainment and community resource booths.

Mayor Andrew J. Ginther; Columbus City Council Members Michael Stinziano and Jaiza Page; City of Columbus Department of Neighborhoods Director Carla Williams-Scott and Franklin County Sheriff's Department Public Information Officer Marc Gofstein welcomed the crowd under sunny skies. Columbus City Council Member Shannon Hardin served as emcee. FCCS Communications Director Deborrha Armstrong told the crowd the event was to help them learn more about resources with their families.

  FamJam is the largest community outreach event planned each year by FCCS and is made possible with donations from local corporations and agencies. The City of Columbus coordinates with the Commons on use of the park for free.

Entertainment was provided by local acts on the main stage including: XClaim Dance, Lungu Vybz, the Franklinton Preparatory School Steel Drum Band, Modeling with a Message and the Douglas Community Recreation Center Cheer Team. Children enjoyed face painting and bounce houses. Families had the opportunity to check out vehicles and equipment from safety forces, explore job training options and learn about veterans’ services. The Columbus Metropolitan Library brought out their bookmobile. Other vendors included CME Federal Credit Union, Molina Healthcare, Mt. Carmel College of Nursing, Advanced Recovery Services, several Franklin County agencies, local charter schools, social service agencies and community service groups. In total, more than 80 organizations offered resources, giveaways and health screenings to the community at their booths.

Click here to view photos from the event.

Kaleidoscope Youth Center: A Safe Space for LGBTQ Youth

   Just be yourself. Heeding this advice isn’t always easy, but it’s especially challenging for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) adolescents who are in the complex process of figuring out who they are. That is why FCCS community partner Kaleidoscope Youth Center (KYC) exists. This Columbus-based nonprofit—and the only youth center of its kind in Ohio—is all about offering an affirming and accepting space for LGBTQ youth ages 12-20 to figure out what it means to just be themselves.

Having a safe, welcoming place to “openly be who they are” is critical to the well-being of LGBTQ youth sorting through sexual orientation and gender identity issues, according to Kaleidoscope’s executive director Amy Eldridge. Located in a historic house near downtown Columbus, KYC’s community drop-in center provides an inviting and inspiring environment that “is key to building a positive sense of self,” she says.

    For LGBTQ youth involved with a child welfare agency like Franklin County Children Services, a place like KYC can play a critically important role. When these youth are placed in foster care or a group home where they might not feel accepted or might be bullied, KYC can lessen feelings of fear, loneliness or isolation. “A lot of young people feel unsupported or like they need to be closeted in those environments because they’re not safe environments,” Eldridge says. KYC gives them a supportive, social space to connect with other youth who know exactly what they’re going through.

Kaleidoscope uses a youth-directed approach, which means the teens have input into every aspect of the center. The broad range of daily, holistic programming covers everything from cooking classes, wellness activities, and inclusive health education and screenings to family support groups, art club, open mic night and weekly pizza and movie nights. One of the center’s most popular offerings is Genderscope, a twice-weekly peer support group for trans, gender non-conforming and questioning youth. KYC also relies on a team of dedicated volunteers “who act as LGBTQ & ally mentors that the youth can connect with, confide in, and get support from,” Eldridge says.

Kristen Godfrey, the center’s program manager, has witnessed countless LGBTQ youth empowered by KYC’s transformative support and encouragement. The center ideally functions as a launching pad, she says, for these kids to gain the tools they need to feel healthy, confident and proud of who they are. “We just have so many youth being leaders in other spaces now,” Godfrey says.

For more on how Kaleidoscope advocates for LGBTQ youth, visit

FCCS Presents Children’s Day at COSI

Children's Day at COSI 2016

An evening of fun awaits Franklin County children during the Children’s Day at COSI celebration on September 29 from 5-9 p.m. FCCS families will receive complimentary admission to COSI (333 W. Broad St.), while general admission will be available at a reduced rate during this special event. Parking (with shuttle service from the lot) is available for $5. Attendees can explore COSI’s interactive educational exhibits, play games and watch a movie on the National Geographic Giant Screen.

But the fun doesn’t stop there. Families can dance and sing along with entertainers on stage including: Bob Piascik, Arnett Howard and Supa Fun Trio. Additionally, Joe Lyons Magic Show will delight and mystify the crowd. Local mascots, including FCCS’s own Ted D. Bear will be on hand to mingle with the crowd and pose for pictures. In addition, every child who attends will participate in a drawing for prizes including bicycles donated by Bike Lady Inc. During the event, Children Services will also provide resources and parenting tips at information tables.

Come out and celebrate children with us! Click here to view photos from last year's event.

Tips for Today: Back to School Travel Safety

It’s August, which means summer is coming to an end and it’s time for children to go back to school. August is Back to School Safety Month and a great time to review safety tips for drivers and children as we prepare for a new school year. Listed below are a few safety tips:

Tips for Drivers

  • Slow down and be aware of posted speed limits in residential areas and school zones.

  • Look out for children at intersections, curbs, and close to school zones.

  • Be careful when pulling into and out of your driveway; children may dart out.

  • Yield and stop for school buses. It’s the law in Ohio!

  • Avoid road rage and accidents by allowing extra time in the morning; there will be more traffic on the roads.

  • Avoid phone distractions. Don’t text and drive!

Tips for Children

  • Look both ways before crossing the street and those under the age of 10 should cross with an adult.

  • Only cross the street at intersections and in the crosswalk. Use traffic signals.

  • Do not cross the street in between parked cars.

  • Always walk in front of the school bus where you are visible to the bus driver.

We all must do our part to ensure the safety of our children! Visit the National Safety Council website for additional tips. Are you ready for the school year? Take the School Bus Safety Quiz for Ohio:

FCCS Insider: UNCF Campaign Funds Scholarships for Agency Youth

(From left) UNCF Committee Co-Chairs Amber King and Daryle Cobb display the 2016 Governor's Award. For the second consecutive year, FCCS received the Governor’s Award for their 2016 United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Campaign. This was the result of fundraising efforts by FCCS employees and community members. The campaign was led by co-chairs Daryle Cobb, Asia Davis, Amber King and Charles Cochran. For the first time during the agency’s six year partnership with UNCF, FCCS was able to offer a $5,000 Alvin R. Hadley Scholarship to a youth who is pursuing higher education.

The 2017 campaign will culminate in the UNCF Walk for Education on September 30 at Wolfe Park from 9 a.m. to noon. Click here to support Team FCCS.


Upcoming Events

June through August - Sunny 95 Neighborhood Block Parties
FCCS will be at the Sunny 95 Neighborhood Block Parties throughout the summer. We'll share parenting tips and other resources with the community. Follow us on Facebook to learn dates and locations.

August 12 - African-American Male Wellness Walk
7 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Livingston Park
732 E. Livingston Ave.
FCCS is co-sponsoring the 14th annual walk/run, which will also include free health screenings for the entire family. For more information visit, email or call (614) 754-7511.

September 29 - Children's Day at COSI
5 to 9 p.m.
333 W. Broad St.

At FCCS's annual Children's Day celebration at COSI, children and families involved with FCCS will receive free admission to COSI exhibits, while a reduced rate for general admission is available to the public. Join us to enjoy local musicians, take part in prize drawings and shake hands with local mascots, including FCCS's own Ted D. Bear. Parking is $5 (shuttle service available).

September 30 - UNCF Walk for Education
9 a.m to 12 p.m.
Wolfe Park
105 Park Drive
FCCS will sponsor a team participating in this event which raises funds for college scholarships including the FCCS Alvin R. Hadley Scholarship. This scholarship is presented to an agency youth each year. For more information, visit or call (614) 221-5309.