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Directions for Youth & Families

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Who We Are: Directions for Youth & Families (DFYF) provides mental and behavioral health services to over 7,000 youth and families in central Ohio each year, most of whom are economically challenged. 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 psychological services, mental and behavioral health treatment, and after-school and prevention programming. 98% of our services are provided at no cost ensuring our youth and families receive the services they need.

What We Do: DFYF has over 50 licensed social workers and counselors offering in-home and school counseling services (we have clinicians in 62 Columbus area schools). 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 has kindergarten readiness and parenting programs. We operate 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.

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. We collaborate with schools, juvenile court, protective services, hospitals, parents, churches, and other social service agencies. Because of the need on the eastside, we are expanding one of our youth centers to be Crittenton Community Center, working in partnership with 23 other non-profits to provide needed services in that area. 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. To support DFYF programs and service, 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. Supporting our Rooted in Change campaign gives those committed to meaningful change an opportunity to purchase leaves or pavers associated with the social justice tree, an art installation in the new Crittenton Community Center lobby that represents the growth of a community. Designating DFYF through your Kroger rewards and Amazon Smile make a difference too!

Connect with Directions for Youth & Families

1515 Indianola Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43201


CEO: Duane Casares, LISW-S

Development Director: Mary Margaritis

Board Chair: Shannon Morgan, PNC


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