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Directions for Youth & Families

Who We Are: Directions for Youth & Families (DFYF) provides mental and behavioral health services to youth and families in central Ohio. DFYF is a resiliency-oriented, trauma-informed agency whose mission is to build and inspire hope, healing, and resilience for youth, families, and communities through counseling and education. DFYF offers a continuum of services that spans psychiatric and psychological services, mental and behavioral health treatment, and after-school and prevention programming. They are 1 of only 26 members of the National Crittenton family of agencies. DFYF serves over 6,000 youth and their families each year, most of whom are economically challenged. 96% of our services are provided at no cost ensuring our youth and families receive the services they need.

What We Do: Programs include clinical counseling services, parenting and kindergarten readiness programs, and after-school/ summer programs. DFYF has over 75 licensed social workers and counselors offering in-home and school counseling services. Individuals and families are helped to address and overcome a range of issues including school challenges, sexual abuse, delinquency, domestic violence, depression and anxiety, physical abuse/neglect, family conflict, grief, and substance abuse. DFYF operates two youth centers providing an environment that is safe, positive, and educational, both located in high-risk neighborhoods and offering new opportunities and healthy alternatives to delinquent activities prevalent in those neighborhoods.

Why We're Important: DFYF has been serving the most vulnerable in central Ohio since 1899 when it's predecessor, Crittenton Family Services, opened a home for unwed mothers on East Main Street. DFYF continues to serve those who are most in need. DFYF builds upon strengths, inspires hope, provides safe places, and promotes healing in some of our communities’ darkest places addressing our toughest issues. Our treatment programs are provided on an outreach basis – in client’s homes, schools, or other community settings – to reduce barriers to treatment and provide services in the environment they are needed.

We relentlessly work for:

  • Recovery – emergency relief that keeps families in housing and businesses flourishing

  • Reform – policies that eliminate systemic racism

  • Resiliency – coaching that boosts individual earning power while leveling the economic playing field for black communities.

How We Impact The Community: DFYF offers programs that provide community-based treatment and prevention services that emphasize commitment to the family, school, and work. Referrals for services come from schools, juvenile court, protective services, hospitals, parents, churches, and other social service agencies. Services are provided through innovative programs that are resiliency-oriented, trauma-informed and focus on the reduction of self-defeating behaviors and assisting youth, adults and families in leading positive and productive lives. DFYF provides new opportunities in disadvantaged neighborhoods, helps clients learn to heal and build resilience, and contributes to a healthy community – one individual, one family at a time.

How You Can Help: DFYF relies on support from individuals, corporations, foundations, and government entities. You can give through a monetary donation, naming DFYF as designated charity through your corporate giving program, planned giving, commemorative gifts, in-kind donations, volunteering , or attending DFYF events. Designating DFYF through your Kroger rewards and Amazon Smile make a difference too! All funding goes to program costs, directly benefiting the young people and families served by DFYF. Supporting and attending DFYF events and activities is a great way to get involved and contribute to making our community stronger.

Connect with Directions for Youth & Families

1515 Indianola Avenue Columbus, OH 43201 614-294-2661

CEO: Duane Casares, LISW-S

Development Director: Mary Margaritis

Email: Board Chair: John P. Brody, Kegler Brown Hill + Ritter


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