May 2021 Connects E-News

Youth Awarded Scholarships

(Clockwise from top left) Kristian Carter, Mandione Ngaya, Alexys Modero and Aayona AustinPromising youth served by FCCS were recognized and rewarded with scholarships during the annual Child Abuse Prevention Virtual Event on April 14.

Kristian Carter has been awarded the four-year Jack Donahue scholarship. A resilient survivor of child abuse and neglect, she plans on attending Ohio State University Newark and earning a bachelor’s degree in English. This ambitious youth dreams of working in publishing and becoming a book editor.

Alexys Modero was awarded the two-year Jack Donahue Scholarship. An outstanding student who is well regarded by her peers and teachers, Alexys is currently president of the Franklin County Youth Advisory Board. She plans to attend Columbus State Community College and says, “College has been an absolute dream of mine since I was little.” Alexys plans to eventually pursue a master’s degree in journalism and communications with the ultimate goal of becoming a television news anchor.

The Alvin R. Hadley United Negro College Fund Scholarship was presented to Aayona Austin. Despite moving frequently and attending several different schools, Aayona has achieved great things. After graduating early from high school with a 4.2 GPA, Aayona plans to obtain a degree in social work or psychology and become a social worker or therapist.

CME Federal Credit Union has presented its second annual scholarship to Mandione Ngaya. Mandione immigrated to the United States from Africa. Despite being separated from his mother and the death of his father, Mandione has thrived and will attend the University of Toledo. He hopes to play football there.

Merit scholarships were presented to: India Hector, Makayla Drake, Megan Duty, Jasada Lewis, Malika Khadka, Marcus Veillard and Mehkiyah Johnson.

Watch the 2021 Child Abuse Prevention Virtual Event

Caseworker Supports Families

Rae DamronA caseworker in FCCS’s East Region since 2018, Rae Damron cares deeply about the children she serves. When a birth mother on one of her cases died, Damron gently told the mother’s children herself and ensured that they had extra support as they processed the sad news. The kindhearted Damron, who was recently honored with Franklin County Children Services’ 2021 Nancy Fitzgivens Child Protection Award, then coordinated with the birth family and the foster family to ensure that the children could attend the funeral. Damron also accompanied them, bringing flowers for them to place on their mother’s casket. Being there for kids in a time of crisis and loss is second nature to the compassionate Damron. She treats every youth on her caseload as her very own, always going above and beyond. “As a mother myself, I try to provide the same level of care I would want for my own children,” she says. 

Damron has worked logistical miracles ensuring siblings in separate foster homes—whether local or out of state—can maintain regular contact. When the foster parent couldn’t be there, she accompanied one of her youth for a scheduled hospital visit and then transported them back to their out-of-county foster home. That work day ended at 4:30 a.m. for Damron...just another day on the job for her.

Damon is committed to permanency for her youth, reunification for her families and above all else,
the critical importance of preserving family connections. “I will work as hard as I can to ensure children have that,” she says. Damron strives tirelessly to track down kinship placement possibilities as well as birth parents and other family members so they can maintain connections and be actively involved in case services. Damron recently located a mother in Haiti and facilitated a way for her to remotely participate in court dates for her daughter.

Family reunifications are Damron’s favorite moments as a caseworker: when parents have successfully worked through their challenges and their kids get to come home to a stronger, more stable family unit. Sharing in this success is one of her greatest rewards, Damron says. “I feel pride for the family, because I knew their capabilities.”

Commission on Black Girls Plants Pinwheels for Prevention

    Franklin County Children Services celebrated National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April to raise awareness of child abuse and neglect. Our community partner, The Commission on Black Girls (COBG), also honored the month with a Pinwheels for Prevention event on Saturday, April 10th, with the FCCS Malaika Mentoring Program and The Center for Healthy Families (CHF).

City Councilmember Priscilla Tyson established the Commission on Black Girls to assess and study the quality of life of Black Girls in central Ohio. The Commission works to ensure that Black girls in Columbus, ages 11 to 22, have successful futures.

Toshia Safford of the Center for Healthy Families led The Pinwheels for Prevention event at Columbus City Hall. Dr. Pat Lyon coordinated the event, which included displaying pinwheels in front of the courthouse, libraries, playgrounds, and parks to create awareness of child abuse, neglect, and the intersectionality of racism. Each pinwheel represented a community member who assisted a child in preventing abuse and neglect.

While FCCS strives to prevent abuse and neglect by strengthening families, the Center for Healthy Families addresses the complex conditions of Black girls and Black children by looking at the social and economic disparities with their peers that impact their lives. FCCS and CHF are using a blended approach to prevent all forms of abuse, neglect, and the intersectionality of racism. 

Be a Pinwheel for Prevention in the life of a Black girl served by FCCS by becoming a mentor. Contact the Malaika Mentoring program at (614) 275-2690 or visit our website.

Upcoming Events

August 15 - Children's Day at COSI
9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
333 W. Broad Street
Youth and families served by Children Services will spend the day exploring science and technology at COSI. Call (614) 275-2780 for more information.