November 2017 Connects E-News

Celebrating Adoption

Sariah (right) and her mom Corena Brady celebrate adoption.

No one is ever too old to find a forever family. Just ask 17-year-old Sariah who was recently adopted by her foster mother Corena Brady. Sariah has been part of the Brady household since 2015, after living with relatives and in residential facilities. Her adoption was recently finalized and she couldn’t be happier. “This is the family that I was always looking for,” says Sariah. Both Sariah and her new mom are strong advocates for foster care and adoption. “I always wanted to adopt, so when my biological children left home, I started fostering and adopting,” says Brady.

Not long ago, Sariah was one of the many youth–a large number of whom are teenagers–in Franklin County who are hoping to find a sense of permanency with an adoptive family. November is National Adoption Month, and a time to put the spotlight on these youth who are seeking forever homes. FCCS will celebrate National Adoption Day on November 16 by finalizing the adoptions of 17 children by six families at Franklin County Probate Court.

The need for family and a sense of belonging does not lessen as youth approach adulthood. In fact, teenagers particularly need the guidance and security that families provide. While parenting teenagers can be challenging, Brady doesn’t shy away from the opportunity. In fact, she is considering adding to her household. “I’m hooked on teens,” she says. “If people will give them a chance, they’ll see the positives. A lot of times their trust in people has been broken and once you build a sense of trust with them, they turn around quickly.”

As Sariah enters adulthood, she has the support of the Brady family behind her. She even has a part time job at the family automotive shop, as well as their encouragement in pursuing a modeling career. The Brady family looks forward to a bright future.

You can give a young person the gift of a permanent family. Click here to learn about FCCS’s adoptions program. 

Community Partner Spotlight: LSS Choices

For those facing domestic violence—including hundreds of Franklin County Children Services client families—LSS Choices has been providing refuge, resources and hope since 1977. Operated by Lutheran Social Services, LSS Choices runs Franklin County’s only domestic violence safe-haven temporary shelter and 24-hour crisis information and referral hotline, (614) 224-HOME.

Domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence, is a pattern of abusive or threatening behavior that can include emotional, economic, physical and sexual violence as well as intimidation, isolation and coercion. One in three women and one in four men will confront this in their lifetime. Here in Franklin County, domestic violence continues to be a serious issue. In 2016, 709 of the 2,347 families who received ongoing case services and support from FCCS were identified as having domestic violence concerns.

In addition to the crisis-oriented services used by FCCS families and others facing similar challenges, LSS Choices offers trauma-informed counseling, peer support groups, legal advocacy, as well as education and community outreach initiatives. Due to the huge demand for its crisis services, the nonprofit is in the process of building a new shelter and more than doubling its emergency capacity, from 51 beds to 120 beds. “The new shelter will greatly increase our capacity to serve those in need of a safe haven to escape intimate partner violence,” said Sue Villilo, LSS Choices executive director. “This innovative shelter will be a place of healing and will include state-of-the-art security, impactful programming and services to help victims transform into survivors.”

The new shelter, which is at an undisclosed location due to safety concerns, is expected to open in late 2018. To learn more about how LSS Choices helps those affected by domestic violence or to support their campaign for the new shelter, visit www.lssnetworkofhope.org/choices.

Grant a Holiday Wish

  Each December, more than 6,000 children under the care of Franklin County Children Services rely on community donations for their holiday toys and gifts. These are children who may have experienced abuse, neglect or other difficult home conditions. They rely on the generosity of our community to put the joy back into their holidays. For more than 50 years, thanks to central Ohio donors children served by FCCS have received gifts that delight them and make them feel special.

FCCS relies on donations of funds and toys for Holiday Wish, as the agency's tax dollars cannot be used to support this program. Donations may be tax deductible.

Now is the time to grant a child’s holiday wish. You can help in several ways:

  • Contact Holiday Wish at (614) 275-2525 to fulfill a wish list for one or more young children at $50 each or sponsor one or more older youth with a $60 donation.

  • Click here to make a monetary donation of any amount online.

  • Send a check made payable to the FCCS Children’s Fund to Holiday Wish at 855 W. Mound Street, Columbus, Ohio 43223.

  • Donate any new, unwrapped toys at our W. Mound Street location.

  • Shop amazon.com for a gift on our Holiday Wish or Black Girl Magic wish lists (Use holidaywish@fccs.us when searching for our lists)

For more information, contact Holiday Wish at (614) 275-2525 or email us at holidaywish@fccs.us or click here.

Our Holiday Wish office at 855 W. Mound Street will be open to receive donations as follows:

  • Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Wednesday December 6 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

  • Saturdays, December 9 and 16 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

  • Sundays, December 10 and 17 from 12 to 3 p.m.

Holiday Wish will be closed from November 23 through 25. Donations that fulfill wish lists should be turned in prior to December 10. Additional toy donations will be accepted through December 22.

While you’re here, stop by our #WishGranter sign and take a selfie to post to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Black Girl Magic Toy Drive

Since 1963, Holiday Wish has been granting the wishes of youth under the care of Franklin County Children Services. For many years, the program has struggled to meet the diverse and unique needs of our children, particularly African-American girls ages 8 through 11. With the belief that all our children should receive gifts that reflect their culture and celebrate their uniqueness, Black Girl Magic was born in 2016. Black Girl Magic is an effort to collect culturally specific gifts such as: ethnic dolls, inspirational poetry, African-American books, ethnic hair care and skin care products for the Holiday Wish Program. The goal of Black Girl Magic is to promote self-love and acceptance with gifts that reaffirm the value of black girls.

This holiday season, FCCS Malaika Director Tonia Still along with the Malaika Mentoring Program Advisory Committee are increasing their efforts to solicit more culturally diverse toys through the 2nd Annual Black Girl Magic Toy Drive and would like the community to be a part of spreading the magic! To help:

  • Attend the Black Girl Magic event on Dec 6, hosted by Franklin County Children Services’ Holiday Wish and Malaika Mentoring programs. Guests are asked to bring a culturally specific holiday gift. The event will be held at Copious, 520 South High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215 from 6 to 8 p.m.

  • Purchase a gift from the Black Girl Magic wish list on amazon.com (from home page select “Accounts & Lists”, then “Find a List or Registry,” then search holidaywish@fccs.us and click on HWBlackGirlMagic),have it shipped or drop it off at FCCS/HWBlack Girl Magic, 855 W Mound Street, Columbus, Ohio 43223.

FCCS Insider: Agency Focuses on Cultural Engagement

LaShaun Carter

LaShaun Carter, FCCS's new director of strategic and cultural engagement, has embraced the challenge of developing initiatives that intertwine culture into the agency’s daily practices, services and programs. His plans include collaborating with staff and community partners to ensure that all children, regardless of where they live, their family income level, or their cultural identity receive the appropriate supports and interventions to have successful outcomes during and beyond their involvement with FCCS. The majority of youth in agency custody are children of color and they are disproportionately represented in child protection systems throughout the country.

Carter’s previous role as the director of community engagement for FutureReady Columbus coupled with his work as a cultural competence consultant and his own life experiences have positioned him to impact the agency’s work in this area. “My personal belief is that my responsibility to this community is that we are always looking through an equity lens when solving for the needs of children and families,” says Carter.

Upcoming Events

November 20 - National Family Week Celebration
5:30-7:30 p.m.
St. Stephen's Community House
1500 East 17th Ave
.

This annual celebration focuses on the importance of the family and those who build community connections that strengthen families. For more information, call (614) 275-2780.

January - National Mentoring Month

National Mentoring Month is a time for recognizing the importance of mentors and their ability to positively impact young lives.