April 2021 Connects E-News

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

  April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and Franklin County Children Services invites the community to join us in raising awareness and preventing child abuse and neglect. This year, the Children's Bureau adopted the theme "Thriving Children and Families: Prevention with Purpose." Preventing child abuse requires the entire community and April is a time to shine a light on how we can all help those in need.

The Ohio Children's Trust Fund (OCTF) kicked off Child Abuse Prevention Month with a virtual event on April 1. They honored #EverydayOhioHeroes throughout Ohio who mentor, donate, and empower youth and families to help prevent child abuse and neglect. The OCTF is the sole Ohio agency dedicated to preventing child abuse and neglect by investing public funding that creates strong communities, healthy families, and safe children.

Also, during Child Abuse Prevention Month, The Center for Family Safety & Healing will host free training on various child protection issues. 

On Wednesday, April 14th, FCCS and our Citizens Advisory Committee will host the annual Child Abuse Prevention Virtual Event celebrating youth, family, and community achievements. The virtual event honors youth and families involved with the agency, FCCS employees, and community members who work together to overcome child abuse and neglect. Scholarships will be awarded to youth who have overcome difficult circumstances and are pursuing higher education. Additionally, April 14 is Wear Blue Day. Show your support for child abuse prevention by wearing blue.

Visit our website to learn more about how you can help safeguard children and support their families. To report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect, call the Franklin County Children Services 24-hour hotline at (614) 229-7000.

A Look Back at 2020

Children Services continued to be on the front lines investigating cases of suspected abuse and neglect and supporting families, during the past year, despite the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Serving families virtually and in-person, our work can be seen in our 2020 Franklin County Child Abuse and Neglect Statistics.

FCCS served 29,307 families during 2020 through agency programs. Intake caseworkers investigated suspected cases of abuse and neglect and connected families with services in the community. Ongoing caseworkers helped families solve problems and keep kids safe. Children were placed in temporary homes with relatives and friends, as well as foster families. Adoptions caseworkers found forever homes for children in need with loving families. 

In 2020, FCCS received 20,752 referrals from the community. This included reports of suspected abuse and neglect, and families who need help. The number of referrals has decreased compared to previous years, primarily because many referrals come from school personnel and community members, and children remained at home for much of the year.

We found that 12,827 of these referrals required investigation and 1,674 needed services from ongoing caseworkers. If cases do not require investigation, families may be referred to resources in the community that can help them overcome challenges (ex. housing and utility assistance).

Agency statistics also show that while we try to keep families together whenever possible, we had 4,205 children placed outside of their homes during 2020. This includes kinship care (with relatives or friends), group homes and institutions, and foster care. This number has decreased over recent years as we continue to increase the number of children who are placed in family homes, rather than institutions and with kin whenever possible.   

The Opioid Crisis and Youth: What to Know

The pandemic has made many existing problems worse, with the opioid crisis at the top of the list. Sadly, teens are among those most vulnerable to abusing substances such as opioids, with 15% of high school students reporting illicit or injection drug use and 14% reporting misuse of prescription opioids, per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Most adults with a substance abuse disorder began experimenting as teens or young adults.

Is a youth you know at risk? According to the CDC, risk factors for teen substance abuse include: poor parental monitoring; lack of school connectedness; family history of substance abuse; mental health issues; and childhood, physical, sexual or emotional abuse. Family rejection of sexual orientation or gender identity can also lead to drug use, especially prescription opioids. A comprehensive list of warning signs your teen might be abusing drugs, can be found at the Partnership to End Addiction website

Thankfully, there are protective factors that can lessen the likelihood of teen substance abuse according to the CDC. These include heightened family engagement and support, increased school connectedness and ongoing parental monitoring.

To learn more about how to identify and help youth at risk of substance abuse, visit the Ohio Opioid Education Alliance’s website. The alliance is a coalition of business, education, nonprofit, civic and government organizations formed by the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health (ADAMH) Board of Franklin County to educate and prevent youth in Ohio from misusing and abusing opioids.

2021 Community Resource Guide

  The Children Services Communications Division is proud to make available the 2021 Franklin County Children Services Resource Guide. This guide serves as only one of many avenues that the agency has implemented to demonstrate our commitment to protecting children by strengthening families. You can find resources and agencies for social services, hospitals and clinics, mental health counseling, food pantries and child care resources, among the many sections. Download a copy today. 

The well-being of our children and the support of their families are the most important measures of a community’s quality of life. It is our hope that this Resource Guide serves as a convenient tool for accessing vital information, services, and programs that will help benefit children and families throughout the community. 

Visit our Community Resources page to find links to vital information as well as information for families about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Upcoming Events

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 or to register, 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.