January 2021 Connects E-News

Family Appreciates Friendship Mentors

<i>Mentoring Amplifies</i> is the theme for this year's National Mentoring Month.
Elmira Goodgame is a great fan of FCCS’s Friendship Mentoring Program. Her daughters, Angel, age 16, and Elmira, 12, have benefited from being matched with “big sisters” for several years and Goodgame has seen great benefits from their experiences. The family became involved with Children Services several years ago because they needed some help and Goodgame is grateful for the support that she and her daughters have received.

Angel has been matched with her current mentor Sheila for more than a year. “They both like the same things, like food and movies and they volunteered together at an animal shelter and cook together,” said Goodgame. Young Elmira enjoys spending time with her mentor Rose, an African immigrant, and learning about Rose’s culture. 

“I think it’s a good program because they do so much for the kids,” said Goodgame. “They always have stuff to do like going to Christmas plays, bowling and skating. That means a lot to kids and parents who have a fixed income. They are doing a good job.”

While most activities have been canceled due to COVID-19, mentors and staff have stayed in close contact with families. “Leesa [Evans, volunteer coordinator] is always calling and checking on me and seeing what I’m doing,” said Goodgame. Angel and her mentor Sheila talk on the phone frequently. Elmira’s mentor Rose sent her a gift package recently and they text back and forth.

Goodgame has seen positive results from her girls’ bond with their mentors. “My kids don’t like to open up, but they open up with their mentors.” She said. “Angel really enjoys being around Miss Sheila and Elmira is so happy when Miss Rose comes to visit."

January is National Mentoring Month, a time to focus on how mentors make a difference for youth. Learn more about FCCS’s mentoring programs and consider becoming a mentor. Learn more about National Mentoring month at mentoring.org

Caseworker Stands By Families

Caseworker Jaymi BrownOffering empathy and empowerment to every family she serves, Jaymi Brown has clearly found her calling as a child welfare caseworker. Brown has almost 20 years of experience in the social work field and currently works in Franklin County Children Services’ East Region.

In her early years as a caseworker, Brown specialized in helping adolescents involved in the child welfare system, an area she still finds particularly rewarding. She excels at encouraging teens to have hope for themselves and envision a future that might be different from “the one they believe society has written for them,” she says.

There are many young adults forever grateful to Brown for her unwavering guidance and support during challenging circumstances. She remembers one young man—a new father going through a rough time—who told her that “You’re one of the only people I trust.” Brown remembers another youth who proudly called her one day to share some good news: she had recently earned her associate’s degree. “She said ‘Hey Miss Jaymi, I’m not a statistic!’” Brown recalls.

When Brown first meets a family, it’s all about building rapport and gaining trust so they know she is genuinely there to help. Allowing families to communicate their concerns and needs is a priority, Brown notes. “I always ask: ‘What’s something you think can be done to help your family?’” she says. Being kind, patient and supportive is also crucial, she adds, especially when a parent might feel frustrated, scared or stressed about their involvement with FCCS.

With families in crisis currently facing heightened hardships, it has not been easy being a child welfare professional in a pandemic, Brown says. But now she is often a family’s main link to necessary referrals and community resources which has made her job even more critically important. Right now, “families are happier to see us, whether virtually or in person,” she says.

Holiday Wishes Granted

We want to thank you for keeping the holiday spirit and helping us safely provide gifts for more than 6,500 children during the Holiday Wish campaign! This was done in spite of the unique challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The youth and families we serve appreciate your generosity.

We especially want to thank the more than 1,000 donors who made the magic happen.

Holiday Wish allows youth under the care of Franklin County Children Services to request a special toy or gift. Each year, the central Ohio community provides gifts for children who may have experienced abuse, neglect or other difficult home conditions. In some cases, these are the only gifts that these children will receive all year. 

This year, because of COVID-19, we made the difficult decision to accept donations for gift cards only. Under those conditions, gift cards were purchased at Walmart, Target, Giant Eagle, and Kroger for youth 18 and under. In a way, the youth and their caregivers could later enjoy a shopping trip together – even online!

Our children have been able to depend on our community since 1963 to grant over 200,000 wishes and we knew that this year would be no different.

You can still donate to Holiday Wish by:

  • Sending a check made payable to the Franklin County Children's Fund to 855 West Mound Street, Columbus, Ohio 43223
  • Donating online using a debit or credit card

We can't wait to see you again in 2021!

Make 2021 a Healthy, Happy New Year

2020 brought many challenges for families, many of which continue including the COVID-19 pandemic, political division, and racial inequality to name a few. But the new year brings hope for a new start. Follow these tips to start a promising 2021.

Create realistic goals for yourself and your family. Focus on being consistent and breaking down your goals into small increments. Plan daily, actionable, measurable steps toward reaching your long-term goals like career advancement and financial stability, and you’ll soon make progress toward achieving them. Examples include creating a weekly budget and making a job search plan.

Take time for loved ones and show them appreciation. Nurture relationships with family and friends who encourage you and care about your success. Positive relationships encourage your emotional well-being.

Follow these additional tips to make 2021 a great year for your family:

  • Create an environment for success. Is your home dreary or energizing? Clean out closets, toys and clutter in your home and then donate some items to a charity. 
  • Reflect on lessons from 2020 and learn from them. Talk with your family about how each of you can “be” and “do” better in the new year and focus on what is truly important.
  • Give back to your community through mentoring and volunteering. Check out volunteer and mentoring opportunities at Franklin County Children Services.
  • Commit to doing something for your health. Exercise regularly and make it a family affair.
  • Invest in your family’s financial future. Pay off debt and start a savings account. Check out these websites to get started: nerdwallet.com and thepennyhoarder.com

Although 2020 was challenging, with the right attitude, you can make 2021 a year of opportunities in a world of uncertainties. Click here for more tips from success.com.

Upcoming Events

March - National Social Work Month

National Social Work Month is a time for increasing public awareness and knowledge of the profession of social work and how these dedicated individuals impact society.

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.