March 2021 Connects E-News

Social Workers are Essential

Recognizing Adoptions Caseworker Amy Holt-Emerson

Amy Holt-EmersonSocial Workers play a vital role in the community. As we celebrate National Social Work Month in March, we recognize the work they do each day to help create positive outcomes for youth, families, and the entire community. We celebrate their role in helping people build better lives by overcoming personal and systemic barriers.

Making positive contributions to the community and creating changes needed for children and families is a part of Amy Holt-Emerson's everyday work life. Holt-Emerson has been with the agency for more than 23 years, previously serving as an ongoing caseworker, and currently working in Adoptions. She is often assigned to work with teens, who can be difficult to place in forever homes. Her calm demeanor helps her relate to youth who have suffered from abuse and neglect and are hoping for positive futures. "It's important to show up for teens because, in some situations, we might be the only ones who will,” she said. 

Helping youth overcome barriers and make big changes in their lives can be very stressful, especially during a worldwide pandemic. Holt-Emerson practices self-care every morning by exercising before she starts her work day. She also credits her husband's and daughter's support and respect for the work she does with helping her stay balanced. "They know it is stressful, but they also know I can't imagine doing anything else," she said.   

Holt-Emerson is just one of the more than 300 caseworkers at FCCS who are dedicated to protecting children by strengthening families. Their work is essential to preventing abuse and neglect, helping families overcome barriers and creating positive outcomes for youth who have experienced trauma.   

Learn more about social work at FCCS.

COSI Connects FCCS Youth With Science

Twins Kaleb and Kaylee are happily exploring space through  Learning Lunch Boxes. Youth served by Franklin County Children Services are learning and having fun with COSI Connects Learning Lunch Boxes provided to the agency thanks to a partnership with the Franklin County Commissioners and COSI. The activity boxes are rooted in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) and encourage students to investigate the sciences.

Twins Kaleb and Kaylee are curious by nature. That curiosity is continuously fed by the farm where they live with their soon-to-be-adoptive mother Amanda Wilson. Exploring with the Learning Lunch Boxes just adds to the 12-year-olds’ excitement about learning about the world.

FCCS Caseworker Destiny Saffell was happy to encourage Kaleb and Kaylee’s interest in science. “The children were so excited to receive the boxes,” she said. “They enjoyed having so many options for activities.”

Living on a farm with a wide variety of animals including cows, horses, chickens, gerbils, and more offers many learning opportunities for Kaleb and Kaylee. The Learning Lunch Boxes are a perfect complement to their education, providing practical experiments and tools for discovery. The twins particularly enjoyed the nature box. They had a lot of fun using the enclosed binoculars to identify birds on the farm. Kaleb said he “loves to discover new things,” and he and Kaylee like to busy themselves with the activities on the weekends.

The twins are really enthralled by the boxes. Kaleb likes dinosaurs, so he’s eagerly awaiting that box. Kaylee enjoys looking at the stars, so she was happy when they recently received the space box. “I think she wants to moonwalk on the moon,” said Wilson. 

Having the kits is a blessing for this mom who wants her children to explore. “I think they give the children good educational experiences,” she said. “The boxes give them reasons to look into things that most people don’t take the time to see. They also give them options for their future careers.”

CelebrateOne Fights High Infant Mortality Rate

  All babies deserve to celebrate their first birthdays. This is the critically important mission of CelebrateOne, a nonprofit founded five years ago to address Columbus’ high infant mortality rate. The data is alarming: Three families lose a baby every week in Franklin County—that’s 150 infants dying every single year. The racial disparity in central Ohio’s infant mortality rate is especially concerning as African-American babies die at twice the rate of white babies in Franklin County.

CelebrateOne and its many community partners are focused on three key factors that contribute to a high infant mortality rate: reducing premature births, eliminating sleep-related deaths and connecting the disconnected to needed resources in underserved areas. The death of a baby before his or her first birthday is a key indicator of a community’s overall well-being, which is why CelebrateOne is focused on eight specific neighborhoods of greatest concern. These include the Hilltop, Linden, Franklinton, the South Side, the Near East, Southeast, Northeast and Northland areas. By addressing the root causes of infant mortality in these high-priority areas, CelebrateOne aims to “set all our neighborhoods up for equal opportunity to prosper,” says Maureen Stapleton, the organization’s executive director.

To further its mission, CelebrateOne offers a range of programs and resources for moms-to-be, babies, fathers, and families. These include education on safe sleep, proper prenatal care and breastfeeding; assistance accessing child care and medical care; and help for families in need of often costly baby necessities such as formula, cribs and diapers. Building community is also a priority. CelebrateOne offers ongoing opportunities for new moms and families to connect, such as virtual parenting support groups and online “Stroller Socials” that promote physical and mental well-being.

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 14 – Virtual Child Abuse Prevention Breakfast
9:00 a.m.

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 and to register for the event, call (614) 275-2523 or email vesmith@fccs.us.

April 14 - Wear Blue Day

FCCS will participate in the statewide Wear Blue Day campaign to support the prevention of child abuse. Wear blue on April 14, 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. 

May – Foster Care Month

Nationwide, there are more than 400,000 youth currently in foster care. Currently, there are more than 300 youth in Franklin County who need loving foster homes. Visit fostercare.fccs.us to learn about becoming a foster parent in Franklin County.