August 2021 Connects E-News

FCCS Dedicated to Attracting and Retaining Caseworkers

FCCS Intake Caseworker Jacquelyn HardenThrough collaboration with families and their communities, we advocate for the safety, permanency, and well-being of each child we serve in a manner that honors family and culture. That is the mission of Franklin County Children Services, and the FCCS Human Resources Department assists in achieving the mission by attracting and hiring dedicated staff.

According to the National Association of Social Workers, 30% to 40% of caseworkers leave the profession, and the average tenure for caseworkers is less than two years. "Caring for children who aren't safe can cause stress emotionally, physically, and mentally. What we also know is that turnover and burnout are high among these workers. We are focusing our recruitment efforts around understanding workers who stay and are satisfied," said Melanie Huffman, director of employee relations. "Using their feedback, we are committed to investing our time and resources to attract and hire an engaged, talented, and diverse workforce committed to protecting children while strengthening families," says Erin Morgan, HR recruiter.

Human Resources strives to support caseworkers and all employees of FCCS by providing them with technology, clear goals and expectations, and emotional support to create job satisfaction and reduce turnover. Policies focused on diversity and longevity have been implemented including:

  • Culture of safety surveys
  • Remote work flexibility
  • Longevity pay increases
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Increased Employee Assistance Program support
  • Automatic promotion opportunities
  • Increased training opportunities
  • Mentor/leadership programs
  • Partnership with diverse career websites
  • The use of virtual reality in the hiring and training processes
  • A video providing a realistic job preview for caseworkers

"We are proud that the agency can provide a plethora of opportunities for our staff to develop skills to serve the children and families of our community. It also encourages and supports employee efforts toward their upward career mobility," said Huffman.

Learn about FCCS employment opportunities.

Agency Focuses on Organizational Health

Children Services is focusing on improving the health of the agency by promoting well-being as well as diversity, equity and inclusion for staff and those they serve. This work will be led by the newly created Organizational Health department, headed by Director Kelly Knight. It starts with giving staff the support they need to do their work effectively and outlets to express themselves. According to Knight, “We have to focus on how we support and treat one another, because at the core, people are our most valuable assets. How can we help others be healthy, if we aren’t healthy?” The team’s work extends to finding ways to create positive outcomes for youth and families. “We need to concurrently focus on how we improve services, connect more with the community and bring the voices of people we serve to our work,” said Knight.

The work of the team will be conducted through three overlapping pathways: data, research and youth educational strategy (headed by Associate Director Jessica Foster); internal education and awareness (headed by Associate Director Eboni Partlow); and community and employee engagement (headed by Associate Director Daryle Cobb).

While organizational health is not a new concept, the team is breaking new ground in creating this department within a child welfare agency and they seek support. “We are setting the standard for others to follow in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion work as a child protection agency,” said Cobb. Knight asks for the help of staff and the community to achieve positive change. “We need opportunities for employees to share their voices and become empowered as well as strong community partnerships,” she said. “I see us as the leaders of this work, but we’d be foolish to think that it doesn’t require the involvement of everyone.”

Stitched Together Comforts Kids in Care

Stitched Together Founder Karie Griffin offers kids in care hope cases.Since 2019, central Ohio nonprofit Stitched Together has been on a mission to reassure children coming into foster care, providing comfort during an often scary and overwhelming time. The nonprofit provides “Hope Cases,” cheerful backpacks for ages 0 to 18 filled with essential items such as toothpaste, shampoo and soap, as well as comfort items like coloring books, cozy blankets and cuddly stuffed animals. Stitched Together’s founder Karie Griffin, who is a social worker as well as a foster and adoptive parent, started her nonprofit after noticing that children going into foster care often have nothing of their own when they’re moving into a new placement. “A lot of these kids just don’t come with anything,” says Griffin, who notes that she experienced trauma throughout her childhood and closely relates to the children she fosters. Knowing firsthand what a lot of these kids have been through inspires her to do as much as she can for them, Griffin says. 

Oftentimes, when a child must go into foster care, it’s an emergency situation, during which there simply isn’t enough time to gather a child’s belongings or perhaps a few random things are hastily tossed in a bag. Griffin wants to change that, one Hope Case at a time. Since Stitched Together began, it has distributed more than 400 backpacks to kids in foster care across central Ohio, partnering with the National Youth Advocate Program, as well as nonprofits Fostering Love and Alicia’s Closet.

With the goal of increasing the amount of Hope Cases it’s able to donate to local children in foster care, Stitched Together is always accepting donations. According to Griffin, most-needed items are pajamas for girls and boys in all sizes, crayons, coloring books and stuffed animals. The nonprofit kindly requests donations of new items only, since “a lot of these kids have never had brand-new things,” Griffin says. “We just want them to know that they’re loved and worthy of having these.”

For more information on Stitched Together, visit stitched-together.org or follow the nonprofit on Facebook.

Upcoming Events

August 14 - African-American Male Wellness Walk

7 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Livingston Park
732 E. Livingston Ave.

FCCS is one of the co-sponsors of the annual walk/run, which will also include free health screenings for the entire family. For more information visit aawellness.org, email aamwwalk@gmail.com or call (614) 754-7511.

August 15 - Children's Day at COSI

10 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.

September - Kinship Care Month

September is a time to recognize the family members and friends who take on the care of youth served by child welfare agencies, who can no longer remain in their own homes. Kinship care providers offer familiar loving homes to youth in need.

September 18 - UNCF Virtual Walk for Education

FCCS will sponsor a team participating in this virtual event which raises funds for college scholarships including the FCCS Alvin R. Hadley Scholarship. This scholarship is presented to an agency youth each year. The event will be celebrated online. For more information, visit uncf.org/event/2021-virtual-walk-for-education-columbus.