August 2018 Connects E-News

Join Us at FamJam

FamJam is almost here! Join us at Franklin County Children Services and Mayor Andrew J. Ginther’s FamJam this Saturday, August 4 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Columbus Commons. It’s a free, family enrichment festival. Parking is available at local lots for a fee. You’ll enjoy entertainment, community resource booths and complimentary food (while supplies last). Local acts will appear on stage including: CJ Buggs, Franklinton Prep Steel Drum Band, Inspiration to Movement, Modeling with a Message, Xclaim Dance and Lungu Vybz.

Face painting, bounce houses and a climbing wall (courtesy of Columbus Recreation and Parks) will be available for families. More than 80 organizations will offer resources, giveaways and health screenings to the community at their booths. Kids can also explore vehicles provided by local safety forces including: the Columbus Division of Police, Columbus Division of Fire and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. The party goes on rain or shine. Join us for the fun! Click here for more information about FamJam.

Caseworker Stands Up for Domestic Violence Survivors

Diona Clark fights for abuse survivors.

Remarkable and resilient are just two words that come to mind when you hear Diona Clark’s story.

A child welfare caseworker in Franklin County Children Services’ West Region, Clark is clearly devoted to the children and families she serves. This bright, introspective woman is also a survivor of domestic violence and gun violence: in 2005, she was shot twice at point-blank range by her abusive, controlling ex-boyfriend a few weeks after she ended their relationship.

Clark has transformed her trauma into a significant source of strength, inspiration and advocacy. The author of Survival is Victory, Clark has written a motivational book about her experiences and established the Liv Out Loud organization, which aims to raise awareness about domestic violence while boosting self-esteem and empowerment. Humble and reflective, Clark feels she has a responsibility to use her experiences to help others, “keeping in mind those that come after me,” she says. “It’s only right that I say something. It’s only right that I do something.”

To that end, Clark recently testified before the Ohio State House of Representatives’ Civil Justice Committee, courageously sharing her story and helping to pass House Bill 1, which provides civil protection for unmarried victims of intimate partner violence. Ohio’s new law went into effect July 2018. This law will finally grant protection and advocacy for victims of dating violence such as Clark. “I feel like my voice was being heard,” she says, about the bill finally being passed.

While she doesn’t dwell on her traumatic experiences, Clark also doesn’t shy away from telling her story when it might help a FCCS family in similar circumstances. “I want people to know that there is life after trauma,” she says. “You don’t have to be stuck in your experience.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and needs help, call the 24-hour crisis line (614) 224-HOME or visit

Youth Explore Rites of Passage

FCCS Simba Mentoring Program Director Daryle Cobb prepares for Rites of Passage. The Franklin County Children Services Simba and Malaika programs have launched its annual Rites of Passage program which teaches African-American history to youth with a passion and a vision for the future. It focuses on the seven principles of Kwanzaa which include: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. These principles are introduced with activities to assist youth in building self-esteem, determination, confidence, and a sense of responsibility to their community.

FCCS’s program is being led by Dr. Lewis Dodley, a youth advocate, motivational speaker and certified Afrocentric National Rites of Passage trainer. Dr. Dodley is a licensed counselor recognized for his commitment to youth issues and violence prevention.

During the seven months of the Rites of Passage program, youth will build relationships with community leaders, while learning about the importance of self-discipline and purpose. They will also learn how to demonstrate unity by understanding that each individual is responsible for the success of the village as a whole and that issues can be resolved through community-derived solutions.

FCCS leadership looks forward to the growth youth will experience as a result of this program. “The Rites of Passage help teach youth how to refocus their energy and attention to become leaders and learn how to communicate,” states FCCS Malaika Mentoring Program Director Tonia Stills. “When our youth are able to understand who they are, it gives them a purpose in life and helps them uncover their passions and future goals,” said FCCS Simba Mentoring Program Director Daryle Cobb. At the end of the program, youth should have developed faith in their proud past, exciting present and bright futures.

Click here to learn more about FCCS’s mentoring programs.

Tips for Today: Get Ready for Back to School

Starting a new school year can be challenging for both children and parents. Saying goodbye to the carefree days of summer and getting back into the rigors of school days can be tough. Having a game plan in advance can make the transition easier. The U.S. Department of Education suggests the following:

Make a Trial Run

Visit your child’s school and classroom. Take the daily route to the school, making note of crosswalks and safety patrols. Discuss how they will be traveling, where pick up and drop off will be and emergency contact information. Make sure kids know how to deal with interactions with strangers.

Meet Your Child’s Teacher

Introduce yourself to your child’s teacher and discuss how you will communicate throughout the year.

Create Homework Habits

Set and maintain a homework time and designate a distraction free zone for study.

Trade Screen Time for Reading Time

Manage the amount of time your child spends watching TV and using devices. Start a good habit by regularly spending time reading with your child or discussing books they’ve read on their own.

Embrace the School Schedule

Set regular bed and wake up times for your child and maintain them to ensure your child has the energy needed to focus throughout the day. Consider starting the schedule a week before school begins to ease the transition.

Be Healthy

Keep your whole household healthy and energized with nutritious meals and snacks. Also make sure that everyone is up to date on checkups and immunizations.

FCCS Insider: Finding Forever Families and Fun

     Kids gathered for a fun time at Hoover YMCA Park on July 28. They enjoyed bounce houses, video games, a climbing wall, food from the grill and much more. But this was no average picnic. It was a chance for youth who are available for adoption to meet people who could be part of their forever families. More than 80 youth met potential adoptive families during the day. Many of them were over the age of 10, sibling groups, and those with special needs.

The adoptions team was very pleased by participation in the event. “This was the best turn out we’ve had in years,” said FCCS Adoptions Supervisor Anthony Reams. “I’m so encouraged by being able to introduce kids in need to prospective parents.”

"This is also a chance for the community to experience the work we do as an agency and help our youth," added FCCS Caseworker Cheryl Harris.

Upcoming Events

August 11 - 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.

August 11-12 - Festival Latino 2018
11:00 a.m. to 8: p.m.
Genoa Park
303 West Broad Street

FCCS and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio will share resources with the community at an information table. For more information visit

September 28 - 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 entertainment on stage and shake hands with local mascots, including FCCS's own Ted D. Bear. Parking is $5.

September 29 - UNCF Walk for Education
9 a.m to 12 p.m.
Wolf 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.