January 2022 Connects E-News

Mentor Reflects on Life Changing Experience

Mentor Adam Foxx makes a difference.
Simba Mentor Adam Foxx is full of positive energy and purpose. Both are part of the toolkit he uses to inspire and motivate his mentee, Charles. Foxx is a dedicated mentor who believes his role is to support and build up the young man in his charge and provide a consistent positive role model for the youth to emulate. According to Associate Director of Organizational Health Daryle Cobb, Foxx is “known for his commitment and engagement with the Simba Mentoring Program” which matches African-American male youth with African-American men in one-on-one mentorships. Foxx also serves on the advisory committee.

Charles is Foxx’s third mentee and while they have only been matched for a month, they’ve hit the ground running. “We’ve created vision boards and done some process mapping for good school habits,” said Foxx. “[Charles] wants to be a better student.” Charles asked to be part of the mentoring program because he wanted some guidance to achieve his goals. The high school sophomore hopes to play football for school and is considering trade school for his future. 

Foxx feels that the best thing he can offer his mentee is consistency and someone Charles can emulate. “I try to always be on time and prepared to meet with Charles,” he said. “I want to him to see me being on time, keeping my word and being consistent.”

Foxx, a practice transformation coach for a healthcare company, contacted Simba after meeting another mentor while on jury duty. To say that he is now a cheerleader for the program would be an understatement. Foxx describes being part of Simba as “a life changing opportunity” for both the mentor and youth. “If you have the time, it’s valuable to give back to our next generation of young men. It’s not easy, but it is fulfilling and rewarding,” he said. Foxx cautions those who expect immediate returns. “You can’t swoop in and save the day,” he continued. “You have to put in work to build a relationship. It’s not instantaneous or for the faint of heart, but I love every day of it.”

During National Mentoring Month, FCCS would like to thank all the volunteers who support the youth we serve. Learn more about mentoring at FCCS.

Holiday Wishes Granted

Holiday Wishes GrantedWhile Holiday Wish was faced with challenges this year, we found that the central Ohio community was there to support the youth and families we serve in a big way. Individuals, businesses and community organizations responded to our requests for donations. With limited staff and safety protocols in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, Holiday Wish fulfilled its mission of granting wishes.

Thank you for granting the wishes of everyone on our lists this year or donating your time, money and gift cards. We were able to provide toys for young children, retail gift cards for teens and restaurant gift cards for teens and families.

Our shelves were over-flowing, and our hearts were warm.

Since the program's beginning more than 55 years ago, Holiday Wish has been able to grant more than 200,000 wishes. Thanks to your donations this year, we were able to provide gifts for more than 5,000 children. Thanks to our Black Girl Magic Campaign, all our culturally specific needs were met for the sixth year in a row!

We had more than 1500 items donated from our Amazon Wish lists. For the first time in two years, the Black Girl Magic event took place as an in-person, drive-through event in Westerville where hundreds more toys and books were received. At one special moment, 180 bicycles donated by the friends of Bike Lady Inc. showed up on our doorstep.

The efforts of the community made the success of this program possible. We are grateful to be part of a community that embraces its children and brings joy to those who live under challenging circumstances.

Watch a thank you message from our Holiday Wish team.

All wishes granted, all because of you!

FCCS Holds Inaugural Education Summit

Education EmpowersEducation has historically been a challenge for youth involved in the child welfare system. According to the National Factsheet on the Educational Outcomes of Children in Foster Care, only 65% of youth in foster care graduate from high school by the age of 21. Additionally, foster youth are twice as likely to be absent from school as their peers. They are also much more likely to be suspended or expelled. These sobering statistics are some of the key reasons Franklin County Children Services has been busy ramping up educational advocacy efforts, including holding its first-ever education summit this past November.

Led by FCCS’s Education Strategy Team and attended by 25 FCCS staff involved or interested in youth education, the day-long summit was an opportunity to “connect and learn about each other’s work,” according to Dr. Jessica Foster, the event’s organizer and associate director of FCCS’s Organization Health Department. “We have a lot of resources that we want to be able to connect service teams to, to help them better serve kids and families,” Foster says. “We also wanted to help identify needs and brainstorm potential solutions because we know there are a lot of gaps in the way we serve kids. We wanted to hear what those gaps are and figure out ways we can address them.”

With the goal of encouraging collaborative relationships across the agency around education, the FCCS education summit is likely the first of many, according to Foster, who notes that the end goal is all about creating better outcomes for youth involved with FCCS. While education is clearly beneficial for all children, it’s critically important for youth in foster care, she says. “For them to come to school and have positive relationships, that helps with consistency when their lives may be turbulent.” Education also equals opportunity, something that is “unfortunately sometimes limited for our kids,” Foster points out. “Education gives them more opportunities to be what they want to be when they get older.”

FCCS Insider: COVID-19 Resources

While the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to impact our community, families need to stay informed and take steps necessary to protect their loved ones. FCCS has provided a dedicated webpage that lists COVID-19 resources including mental health, education and childcare support, as well as links to information from health care agencies regarding safety precautions. There you can also download information regarding how to prevent child abuse and neglect during the pandemic and designating a caretaker for children in case of illness. Check the COVID-19 Information page regularly for updates.

Upcoming Events

January – National Mentoring Month

National Mentoring Month is a time for recognizing the importance of mentors and their ability to positively impact young lives. Learn about becoming a mentor or volunteering with children involved with FCCS.

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.