May 2019 Connects E-News

FCCS Joins Alliance to Educate Children on the Dangers of Opioid Abuse

     Over the past five years, the opioid crisis has tightened its grip in Ohio as a historic number of people continue to overdose on opioids. Ohio remains among the top states for overdose deaths – only behind West Virginia – with more than 5,000 deaths in 2017 alone. FCCS has joined more than 30 companies, non-profits and government organizations from across the state to promote the Denial, Ohio campaign, which raises awareness of the harms of prescription drug misuse.

“We continue to see the detrimental effect opioid abuse is having on children right here in Franklin County,” said FCCS Executive Director Chip Spinning. “Last year, nearly 50 percent of children in agency custody were there because their parents struggled with drug addiction—mostly opioids. We are committed to working with our partners to educate our youngest generation on the dangers of opioids to help stop the cycle of abuse.”

The Alliance uses the Denial, OH public service announcements to encourage adults to discuss opioid abuse with their children. The PSAs are set in the fictional town of Denial, Ohio, where residents reveal that they don’t believe opioids will impact their children. Viewers are asked to talk with their children about opioids and to properly dispose of and safeguard prescription drugs. For more information, visit

FCCS Youth Awarded Scholarships

(L to R) Kaseem and Mikala Norton

On April 10, FCCS and its Citizens Advisory Committee awarded scholarships to three outstanding youth who have been involved with the agency, during the annual Child Abuse Prevention Breakfast. These scholars were recognized not only for their academic achievements, but also their eagerness to serve the community and their tenacity in overcoming obstacles. Mikala Norton, Kaseem Norton and James Kemp each received thunderous applause after accepting their awards and telling their stories of resilience and triumph.

Mikala Norton received the Alvin R. Hadley UNCF Scholarship. Currently a senior at Eastmoor Academy, Mikala plans to become a pediatric surgeon. She participated in an internship at Riverside Methodist Hospital this year and also has taken college courses at Fort Hayes Career Center. Mikala is in a rigorous college credit plus program and is working toward receiving certification in surgical sterile processing. She does all of this, while helping to care for her younger siblings.

James KempKaseem Norton (Mikala’s brother) received the four-year Jack Donahue Scholarship. Currently a senior in the information technology program at the Columbus Downtown High School, Kaseem plans to become either a cyber security specialist or a network administrator. He is the president of the local chapter of the National Technical Honor Society and currently interns with the United Negro College Fund. A well-rounded student, Kaseem was also a member of the varsity football and softball teams, while at Eastmoor High School and has volunteered with the Arnold Sports World Kids & Teens Expo.  

James Kemp received the two-year Jack Donahue Scholarship and plans to study nursing. Having been in foster care for much of his life, James is thriving and overcoming obstacles. He is a section leader in the South High School Marching Band, a drummer for the Thiossane West African Dance Institute, a volunteer at the Lincoln Theatre and was named homecoming king at his school. He also participated in Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Upward Bound Program and is a student ambassador for Columbus City Schools. James has also had internships with Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Tips for Today: Becoming A Foster Parent

National Foster Care Month is observed throughout the United States during the month of May. It is a time to reflect on the thousands of children who are unable to safely remain in the homes of their parents and are not able to be placed with a relative or close friend. Franklin County currently has hundreds of children waiting for foster families. Perhaps you feel that you could provide a loving foster home. So what’s next?

The first step is to educate yourself about fostering; find resources that can assist you in your preparation as a foster parent. Read as much as you can about fostering and connect with the foster parent community. Click here to learn about fostering in Ohio. Preparation goes beyond training, paperwork, and background checks; emotional readiness is critical.

Choose an agency that will offer you the support and resources needed to assist you in the entire foster care process. Franklin County Children Services partners with a number of agencies that provide foster care services. Location, size, and support services offered play an important role in your choice. Visit for a complete listing of FCCS foster agencies.

Once you’ve contacted an agency, you will need to fill out an application, attend required training, and complete a home study. The state of Ohio requires foster parents to receive 36 hours of coursework, offered to you at no charge, to become a licensed foster parent. When you have received your license, you may be contacted regarding children who need foster care. You will continue to receive support, guidance, and training throughout the foster care process.

For more information, call the FCCS Foster Care Recruitment Line at (614) 275-2711.  Foster hope, foster love, foster Franklin County.

FCCS Insider: Harrison Honored for Partnership

Sonya HarrisonCongratulations to FCCS Intake Associate Director Sonya Harrison for receiving the Clinical Medical Social Work Community Partner Award from Nationwide Children’s Hospital (NCH). Harrison received this award because of her efforts to aid a family with a terminally ill child. She helped coordinate and supervise a visit between the child and the mother who was incarcerated at the time and expedited final arrangements. Harrison was commended for working with both hospital and FCCS staff, law enforcement officials and the child’s family to help everyone involved through an extremely difficult situation. Upon accepting the award, Harrison thanked NCH for their long-standing, committed partnership with FCCS.

Click here to learn about FCCS's Intake, Assessment and Investigations Department.

Upcoming Events

June 15 - Fishing with Dad
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Schiller Park
1069 Jager Street

Sponsored by the Columbus Urban League's African-American Male Initiative and FCCS, the event offers dads and their children the opportunity to spend the day together having fun. Free fishing gear is available while supplies last. Visit for more information.

August 17 - FCCS and Mayor Andrew Ginther's FamJam
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Columbus Commons
160 S. High Street

Franklin County Children Services and the City of Columbus invite you to a free, family enrichment festival at the Columbus Commons. FamJam will bring families together with community resources, vendors and information tables, as well as tons of fun and entertainment. Rain or shine! For more information, call (614) 341-6085.