March 2020 Connects E-News

Social Workers: Planting Seeds, Growing Lives

Click to watch <em>Social Workers Planting Seeds Growing Lives featuring Ciaira Richey</em>.Social work is at the heart of everything that is done at Children Services and caseworkers who work directly with youth and families have a chance to make a profound impact on their lives for generations. National Social Work Month is a time to celebrate the efforts of caseworkers who go above and beyond expectations to provide pathways for success to those they serve. These efforts include case planning, linking families to resources, placing youth in loving foster homes, identifying forever adoptive families, and preparing youth to age out of care and learn life skills.Click to watch <em>Social Workers Planting Seeds Growing Lives featuring Jamole Callahan</em>.

The caring people who take on the role of social worker or caseworker at FCCS often mean a great deal to the youth and families they serve. According to former agency youth Joshua Hatch. “Case workers have impacted my life in a positive way by simply caring. There are some that took the time to hear what wanted for myself, held me accountable and supported those goals in whatever way they could until I accomplished them.” Hear from other former agency youth in the Social Workers: Planting Seeds Growing Lives Video Series.

Central Ohio Diaper Banks Fill Vital Needs for Families

As any parent of a baby or toddler well knows, diapers are an expensive necessity. It costs hundreds of dollars per year, per child, to keep little ones in this important staple. And yet no federal or state assistance programs help low-income parents with this basic but critically important item. Luckily for local families in need, Columbus has not one, but two local resources for free diapers. The Short North-based Columbus Diaper Bank and the Hilliard-based Columbus Diaper Coalition are both members of the National Diaper Bank Network. These volunteer-run nonprofits distribute thousands of free diapers annually through a network of community-based social service agencies such as food pantries, free stores and neighborhood health centers.

According to the National Diaper Bank Network, “diaper need”—defined as a lack of sufficient diapers to keep a child clean, dry and healthy—is a huge problem in the United States, where more than 5 million children under the age of three live in low-income families. When a baby is left in a soiled diaper longer than necessary, it can lead to diaper rash and infection. This in turn leads to irritable, uncomfortable babies and stressed-out caregivers.

At Franklin County Children Services, diaper need is a serious concern for many families. Not having enough money to buy these can be a source of shame and frustration for parents struggling to get by on a limited income. Child welfare caseworker Bree’Ana Melick has seen this firsthand. “To those looking in, it may seem as though the parent doesn’t care for their child when really they have an immense amount of love,” she says. “They are just lacking resources and funds to adequately care for them.”

For more information on where to access free diapers in Central Ohio or to arrange a donation, visit www.columbusdiaperbank.org/ and www.columbusdiapercoalition.org.

Celebrating Everyday Heroes and Child Abuse Prevention

In April 2020, the Ohio Children’s Trust Fund (OCTF) is asking adults to “Be a Hero in the Eyes of a Child – one simple act of encouragement at a time.” During National Child Abuse Prevention Month, both Franklin County Children Services and the OCTF will focus on promoting awareness of child abuse and neglect and encouraging adults to make a difference for children by being a positive presence in their lives.

The OCTF is marking the occasion with several programs and events. The community has been asked to make award nominations for #EverydayOhioHeroes: groups or individuals who are preventing abuse and helping by mentoring, donating and empowering youth through everyday acts. Youth are competing in an artistic expression contest by submitting creative writing, photography and visual arts pieces that encourage their audience to be everyday heroes and make a difference for children. A Child Abuse Prevention Month Kickoff event will be held at the Ohio State House on April 2, where local heroes will be celebrated, and contest winners will be announced.

In addition to supporting the OCTF campaign, FCCS will celebrate Child Abuse Prevention Month in other ways. The annual Child Abuse Prevention Breakfast, held on April 8, highlights the accomplishments of youth and families involved with the agency who have overcome obstacles to find success. Community organizations and staff members who have made a difference for families are also being recognized. In addition, scholarships will be awarded to agency youth.

April 8 is also Wear Blue Day to raise awareness of child abuse prevention. People are encouraged to take photos of themselves and their groups wearing blue and email them to fccsoutreach@fccs.us. Photos may be posted on FCCS’s Facebook and Twitter pages. 

Cooking Experience Teaches Life Skills

An agency youth cooks like a pro.

FCCS enables youth to obtain life skills they need to prepare for independent living and a better future. All youth ages 14 and older in the custody of Franklin County Children Services participate in the agency’s Life Skills Program. The 10-week course focuses on education and empowerment skills such as obtaining and maintaining employment, budgeting, housing and food management. Recently, Life Skills participants were able to gain first-hand experience in cooking at the Mitchell Hall Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts building on the campus of Columbus State Community College.

The youth received a cooking lesson from Mitchell Hall Head Chef Jason Knapp, during which they learned how to prepare a meal consisting of pasta, roasted chicken and sautéed vegetables. The participants also had a hand in cleaning up after preparing their meal. According to Chef Knapp, the FCCS youth did a great job and possessed some of the cooking skills that his current students have obtained. The students were able to take everything they prepared home with them, but the most valuable thing they took away was the satisfaction of preparing their own dishes. One participant stated, “This was so much fun, when are you doing this again?” Another said, “Now I can cook for my group home.”

The 80,000 square feet Mitchell Hall opened in August 2019 and is a state-of-the-art facility featuring eleven teaching kitchens and labs, as well as a full-service restaurant where students practice their culinary skills. The building also hosts a bakery and a culinary theater.

Click here to learn more about the FCCS Life Skills Program or contact Life Skills Instructor Jamole Callahan at Jamolec@icloud.com

Upcoming Events

April - Child Abuse Prevention Month

April is a time to raise awareness about child abuse prevention. If you suspect a child is being abused, call the 24-Hour Child Abuse Hotline at (614) 229-7000.

April 8 - Child Abuse Prevention Breakfast

7:30 a.m.
Mitchell Hall, Columbus State Community College
250 Cleveland Ave.
Columbus, OH 43215

FCCS's annual event highlights child abuse prevention and the accomplishments of social work professionals, client families, youth and community advocates. Also, college scholarships are awarded to agency youth. For more information, call (614) 275-2523 or email vesmith@fccs.us.

April 8 - Wear Blue Day

FCCS will participate in the statewide Wear Blue Day campaign to support the prevention of child abuse. Wear blue on April 8, take a photo of yourself or your group and email it to fccsoutreach@fccs.us and you may see your photo featured on our Facebook or Twitter pages.

April 30 - Volunteer Recognition Reception

6:30 p.m.
Aladdin Shrine Center
1801 Gateway Circle
Grove City, OH 43123

The FCCS volunteer department will honor volunteers and mentors for all that they do for FCCS children. Click here to learn how to become a volunteer with FCCS.