August 2019 Connects E-News

FamJam is almost here!

FamJam 2018Join us at Franklin County Children Services and Mayor Andrew J. Ginther’s FamJam on August 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Columbus Commons. It’s a free, family enrichment festival. Parking is available at local lots. You’ll enjoy entertainment, community resource booths and complimentary food, including grilled hot dogs, chips and Whit’s Frozen Custard (while supplies last). Local acts will appear on stage with a parade of local mascots and free carousel rides all day.

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.

Former Foster Youth Finds Her Place

Jeniffer Castillo Lugo

At 19, Jeniffer Castillo-Lugo seems to really have her act together with her own car, apartment and a job as a translator for HandsOn Central Ohio, while she majors in international studies at Columbus State Community College. But her accomplishments came after coping with many challenges while in foster care. Her success is the result of staying focused, working hard and taking advantage of the opportunities that she was offered.

Castillo-Lugo came to the United States from the Dominican Republic. Her mother was unable to accompany the family, and after her father passed away, Castillo-Lugo and her siblings were placed in foster care. When her foster parent retired, her siblings were placed in kinship care and Castillo-Lugo took advantage of Franklin County Children Services’ (FCCS) Youth Transitional Services to prepare to move toward independence. This involved living at My Place for a year.

The My Place Transitional Age Program offered through the Buckeye Ranch, helps young adults to transition to independent living. FCCS refers youth ages 16 to 21 to the program, where they reside in fully furnished one-bedroom apartments, at a complex where mentors are always on hand to provide guidance and supervision.

Castillo-Lugo credits the time that she spent at My Place for helping her achieve her goals, as well as her mentor and advisor “Mr. Ricky.” “He would sit with me every week, go over my budget and just talk,” she said. “He helped me believe in myself, when I felt discouraged.” She also received a great deal of support from her FCCS Youth Transitions Services Caseworker, Kelly Stromer.

Now on her own, Castillo-Lugo continues to do well, even receiving the 2019 Rising Up and Moving On award during FCCS’s Child Abuse Prevention Breakfast. She speaks fluent English, Spanish and Italian and wants to advance in her career while helping immigrants like herself. Her ultimate goal is to own her own home.

When asked what advice she’d give others who are striving for independence, Castillo-Lugo said, “Success depends on your mindset. It’s going to be hard, but having a focus is important. Find something positive in each situation and keep thinking about your goal.”

Learners Thrive at Columbus Library Homework Help Centers

Stop by the Main branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library and branches around the city for homework help.Know a student in need of a little extra help this upcoming school year? The Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML) has a range of free resources to help kids succeed in school, whether you have a kindergartener learning to read or a high school senior struggling through calculus. Located at all of its 23 locations throughout Franklin County, the library’s Homework Help Centers feature on-site staff and volunteers ready to assist with school work in a quiet, welcoming environment. There are also computers, printers, school supplies and other resources available.

At CML’s Franklinton location, the Homework Help Center is open from 3 to 6 pm and is always bustling with activity, according to Kelly Young, the branch’s homework help center specialist. There are usually 15 students there on average and most are elementary school-age kids needing assistance with math or reading, she says.

Homework Help Centers only operate during the school year and hours vary by location, so visit for more information.

Can’t get to the library? There are a range of online homework resources available on the library’s website, whether you’re learning a new language, researching a paper for English class or working on a science report. Learn more at

Tips for Today: Getting Ready for Back to School

Preparing your household for a back to school routine can be challenging for parents, but with a little planning, your child will get a good start to a great year! Start by re-establishing routines at least one to two weeks prior to the start of school. Create a bedtime schedule. Children should go to bed earlier and wake up earlier to ensure they get proper rest in preparation for school. They should also get in the habit of eating a healthy breakfast for better concentration and energy. This is a great time to sit down with your child and create healthy menus for both breakfast and lunch.

TV, social media, and computer time should be limited, and distraction-free study zones should be established. Get your child’s school supply list early and pack necessary items in a backpack ahead of time. Make sure your child visits their doctor for check-ups and eye exams. Also, ensure shots and vaccines are up-to-date. Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website to check your child’s immunization requirements.

If your child will walk to school, take practice trips with them, so that they’ll feel comfortable. When going to a new school, parents and students should attend open houses to become familiar with the layout of the school and meet teachers.

Be sure to talk with your child about any concerns they have about going back to school. Discuss bullying and other social issues your child may encounter. Help them identify trusted adults at school that they can talk to if problems occur.

Back to school time can be hectic, but with planning the year can be a wonderful adventure! Additional tips are available from the U.S. Department of Education and Active Beat.

Upcoming Events

August 10 - African-American Male Wellness Walk
7 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Livingston Park
732 E. Livingston Ave.

FCCS is one of the co-sponsors of the 15th 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 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 or click here.

September 27 - 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 and shake hands with mascots, including FCCS's own Ted D. Bear. Parking is $6. Click here to learn more about Children's Day at COSI.

September 28 - 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.