August 2022 Connects E-News

Community Partner: Alicia's Closet

Providing children’s clothing and other essentials free of charge, Alicia’s Closet has become utterly invaluable to foster families since it was started in 2018. Established by foster and adoptive mom Maya Ward and her husbandAlicia's Closet provides children's clothing and other essentials free of charge to foster youth. Eric, this local nonprofit ensures that foster parents have all the necessities on hand to make a new foster child feel welcome, comfortable and safe.

When Ward and her husband first became foster parents in 2017, they soon realized there’s not always much notice when a child comes into care. Done when a child’s safety is at imminent risk, a foster care placement is often unpredictable—an emergency situation in a time of crisis. So even the most prepared of foster parents don’t always have what they need. “Kids are coming in at midnight with the clothes on their backs only or a trash bag full of random things,” Ward says. Her goal with Alicia’s Closet—named after her first foster child and now adopted daughter Alicia—was to create a free resource that would give families “one less thing to think about” while they’re helping an often overwhelmed and scared child adjust to a new, unfamiliar environment.

Based in Gahanna (with an additional location in Fremont, Ohio), Alicia’s Closet is open for shopping by appointment only. Foster families in need—as well as kinship or reunified birth families and former foster youth—can book appointments through the nonprofit’s website and also access free support groups. It was important for Ward to have her organization help anyone who’s been affected by foster care, including teens who have aged out of the child welfare system. “I felt strongly about opening it up to kinship families, reunified families, former foster youth—basically anyone who has been affected by foster care in any way because we really value family preservation and family restoration,” Ward says. “We want to celebrate that and keep that connection and support going.”

For more information, visit aliciasclosetcolumbus.org or call (614) 398-2203. Donations and volunteer assistance are always needed and welcomed, Ward says.

988 Offers Support for Mental Health Crisis

With all of the pressures of daily living, too often, youth and their family members face crisis situations and need immediate help to address mental health issues. Now, that help is just three digits away: 9-8-8. TheThe new nationwide 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. new nationwide 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is staffed by trained mental health crisis counselors who are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to offer support to people who need help. 988 counselors offer free and confidential support and resources.

988 went live on July 16, arising from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It was developed out of a growing need to provide immediate access to mental health support. The Substances Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations (SAMHSA) notes concerning statistics:

• In 2020, the U.S. had one death by suicide every 11 minutes
• Suicide is a leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 34
• From April 2020 to 2021, more than 100,000 individuals died from drug overdoses

According to SAMSHA, 988 staff are prepared to help people who are thinking of suicide, experiencing substance abuse issues or are in any other type of emotional distress. People who are concerned about friends or family members who are in crisis, can also contact 988 for help.

When you need help, call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org. Visit the SAMHSA website for more information.

Back-to-School Tips

It’s that time of year again! The first day of school is quickly approaching and kids will be back in the classroom before you know it. While exciting, it can be overwhelming and create Prepare kids to go back-to-school.anxiety in children. It is normal for kids to be anxious in any new situation – like entering a new grade or starting a new school. They need time to adjust. Talking to and preparing them is a great way to help reduce their anxiety and get their school year started off right. Check out these helpful back-to-school tips from the Boys & Girls Club.

  • Make sure kids have everything they need. Generally, your child’s teacher or school will share a list of items they’ll need in their new grade. 
  • Build routines. Make sure children have a good sleep routine, which means they don’t stay up too late, wake up on time every morning, and still get the necessary amount of sleep each night.
  • Refresh your child’s memory with some coursework from the previous year. Try to have your child start their new school year with their best foot forward by making sure they retain the information they’ve already learned. 
  • Review safety information with your child. This includes talking about safety when traveling to or from school, what to do if they are home alone after school, dealing with bullies, and interacting with strangers. 
  • Sign your child up for afterschool programs. These programs provide a safe place where kids can still interact with other children, have fun, study, and more. 

For more tips on how to help kids make a smooth transition back-to-school, visit KidsHealth.org.

FCCS Insider: Summer Events

One of our missions at Franklin County Children Services is to collaborate with families and their communities to advocate for the safety and permanency of each child we serve. To do that, you will see FCCS staff throughout FCCS participate in community events to help raise awareness of our mission.the community to raise awareness of our mission, provide resources to families and to link families to professionals. 

The agency speakers' bureau has participated in 45 events so far this year, including a women’s ministry conference, neighborhood block parties hosted by our media partners and community festivals and resource fairs. You can always visit our website for resources and parenting tips HERE, or visit one of our booths at an upcoming public event. 

We recently participated in the "Franklinton Night Out", a community engagement booth at a local Juneteenth Festival and a fatherhood summit. Later this summer, we will participate in the Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival, UNCF Walk for Education, "African American Male Wellness Walk", and a community resource fair at the Great Western Shopping Center. 

We also attend speaking engagements with schools, day care centers and professional organizations to provide agency overviews and information regarding being a mandated child abuse reporter. A special team of caseworkers explain the process for providing the hotline information we need for a referral. Our agency receives more than 31,000 referrals each year of suspected abuse. Our 24-hour telephone hotline is 614-229-7000. You can request an FCCS speaker HERE and we will try to accommodate your event.

Upcoming Events

August 13 - African American Male Wellness Walk
The Annual African American Male Wellness Walk will be held on Saturday, August 13th at Livingston Park at 7:00 am. Visit aawellness.org for more information.

September 17 - UNCF Walk for Education
The Annual UNCF Walk for Education will be held Saturday, September 17th at McFerson Commons #1 located at 218 West Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215. Visit UNCF.org/ColumbusWalk 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.