December 2021 Connects E-News

Settlement Houses Name Families of the Year

National Family Week: A Time  for Celebrating Resilience, Commitment and CaringFamilies who have experienced difficulties can heal themselves with the help of the community. Children Services’ Family-to-Family program enables them to get the assistance they need through services provided at local settlement houses. Each year, the agency celebrates families that have overcome obstacles to achieve success, while taking advantage of the services available to them by awarding Families of the Year during National Family Week.  

Central Community House Family of the Year: Jacqueline Yarborough and Family

Jacqueline Yarborough has shown tremendous strength, willingness to continue, and a passion for her life and her children. With the assistance of Central Community House and many supportive services, Yarborough was able to leave a difficult situation and maintain a stable and safe living environment for her family.

Gladden Community House Family of the Year: Brittany Oliver and Family

Brittany Oliver has been called “a devoted mom who does whatever she can to put her children in the best position,” by Gladden staff. Oliver has obtained employment and will soon relocate to Clark County, where she has been approved for housing.

St. Stephen's Community House North Family of the Year: Leigha Gray and Family

Leigha Gray attended most groups and classes offered at St. Stephen's simply because she wanted to learn something new. Gray recently became a scholarship recipient for an employment readiness program offered by NextJob.com. She has also found employment that will enable her to care for her children during the day.

St. Stephen's Far East Family of the Year: Malasia Keen and Family

Malasia Keen is a young mom who worked hard to gain independence. She reached out to St. Stephen's to learn how to manage her finances and obtain the supportive services she needs to be on her own. Eventually Keen was approved for her first apartment, where she is now making a home for her family.

St. Stephen's Community House South Family of the Year: Angel Kitchens and Family

After leaving a difficult situation, Angel Kitchens is raising her three children alone, while working two jobs. She hopes to soon have a new home for her boys. A great spirit, who usually has a smile on her face, Kitchen always has encouraging words for others who are struggling.

Recognizing Community Partners who Support Families

The Family-to-Family Program relies on the support of individuals and organizations within the community to provide services and resources to families in need. National Family Week is an opportunity to recognize those who have given generously.

St. Stephen’s Community House North Community Partner of the Year: I Support the Girls-Columbus

Kathleen Jackson, founder of I Support the Girls-Columbus, volunteers her time and energy, collecting donations to provide women in need with quality bras, underwear, makeup, clothing, and other items. These things mean a great deal to women living in homeless shelters, prisons, rehabilitation centers, or simply struggling to make their way in the community. 

Jackson has committed to providing bras to the women at St. Stephen’s North, promising to drop off bras, when staff members request them. She even gave staff instructions on accurately measuring women for bras. Jackson’s affiliate anticipates donating over 230,000 bras and underwear to women in the community before the end of 2021. She also provides information to women about breast self-examinations and encourages them to get mammograms. Jackson even offered to accompany a woman to an exam and hold her hand during the procedure.

St. Stephen’s Far East Community House Community Partner of the Year: Furniture Bank of Central Ohio

According to Furniture Bank of Central Ohio, “Furniture directly transforms an empty house into a true home for a family in need.” This nonprofit provides furniture to families who are affected by difficult events and economic challenges. They have long partnered with Family-to-Family to provide resources to families involved with FCCS. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Furniture Bank never closed their doors and consistently made deliveries to families despite having staffing difficulties. Family-to-Family is indebted to them for their continued generosity.

Caseworker Engages Families with Care

Caseworker Lydia JonesWidely respected by colleagues and clients alike, Lydia Jones is a seasoned child welfare caseworker at Franklin County Children Services’ intake office. Jones also serves as a mentor to the agency’s newer intake caseworkers, imparting her hard-won wisdom from almost a decade in the social services field. Here are a few of Jones’ tips for success when it comes to engaging with children and families.

Empathy is an essential part of being a child welfare caseworker, according to Jones. “Families should know us as down-to-earth, understanding and empathetic,” she says. She is also careful to recognize the inherent awkwardness of the situation when FCCS shows up at a family’s door. When she first meets a family, Jones says she will often say something like “I can only imagine how crazy this is, that on a Tuesday a stranger is showing up at your house, asking you questions about your parenting. I haven’t missed that and I really thank you for talking with me.”

For Jones, building a successful rapport with families is also about authenticity. “In this line of work, you really need to bring your human self because people pick up real quick when you’re not genuine,” she says.

Showing respect is another necessity when helping children and their families navigate difficult circumstances. Jones is a careful listener and knows that there’s always a deeper story than the one that she first hears. “I am just getting a little tiny piece of something that happened and it may have really been the worst day for your family ever,” she says. Respect is also about meeting families where they’re at. “Just because I’m in your house, just because you said yes to talking today does not mean that at any moment, if this gets too heavy for you, that you’re not allowed to say ‘Today is not the day,’” Jones says. “You need to stress just how many rights a family has.”

Learn more about Intake and Investigations

Grant a Child's Holiday Wish

Help us Spread Joy to Families!Help us grant a Holiday Wish for youth under the care of Children Services. This year, we have returned to the classic Holiday Wish model bringing the toys and magic back to the holidays for our children. In this hybrid model, some children and teens will receive gift cards, while others will receive toys.

For more than 55 years, supportive community members have granted the wishes of children through the Holiday Wish program. Because of your support, these children have received more than a gift, they been given a memorable moment with their families that they will never forget.

Help us provide gifts for more than 6,500 youth served by the agency and put the magic back in the holidays for our families. You can help by donating any new toy, a gift card or cash. Toys can be dropped off at Holiday Wish at 855 W. Mound St, Columbus, OH 43223 now through December 23. Gift cards for businesses like Walmart, Target, or grocery stores (to provide family meals) can be sent to this address as well. Monetary donations can be made online via our website. Purchases can also be made via the Holiday Wish Amazon Wish List.

Holiday Wish also believes all children should receive gifts that reflect their culture and celebrate their uniqueness. Since its inception, the program has struggled with meeting the diverse needs of the children we serve, particularly our African-American girls between the ages of 8 and 11. We are accepting donations of culturally specific gifts through in person donations and purchases made through the Black Girl Magic Amazon Wish List and sent to our location. Cash donations can also be made through our website. Place “Black Girl Magic” in the comments field.

Join FCCS at the Black Girl Magic Toy Drive Event on December 11 from 2-4 p.m. at The Five Party and Event Center (4977 E. Dublin-Granville Road, Westerville, OH 43081). Stop by and drop off your donations! 

Visit our website or call (614) 275-2525 for more information.

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.