National Foster Care Month

May is National Foster Care Month!

Some Statistics…

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a charitable foundation focused on improving the well-being of American children, in 2018, 424,653 children were in foster care in the US. Childtrends.org defines this as, “a living arrangement for children who a child protective services worker and a court has decided cannot live safely at home.” This source also states that, in 2017, one in three children entered foster care because of parental drug abuse. “Without a caring, loving parent, the statistics about orphans indicate that they are at great risk to crime and homelessness. They don’t graduate from high school or have the ability to attend or succeed in college. Many become teen parents, are under-employed, and lack the skills to build strong relationships and have their own healthy families. These kids are at risk to those who hustle sex for hire, traffickers, extremists and others who prey on the kid’s vulnerabilities,” (kidsave.org). Foster care is a positive service, but it should be used in conjunction with families, not as a replacement. In 2017, the state of Ohio saw one of the largest increases in children entering foster care due to parental drug abuse. April Dirks, an associate professor of social work at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, says, “unfortunately the foster care system is overburdened—there’s not enough families, not enough services. If they’re going to remove the children, the best thing would be immediately treating the parent.” Dirk believes in specialized programs that provide supervised treatment instead of incarceration for people with substance use or mental health issues. These courts can provide parents with the support they need to recover from their addiction and regain custody of their children, (npr.org).

How Alvis Can Help…

Alvis is one such program. Here we bring families together instead of splitting them apart. The Family and Children’s Program serves children and their mothers, with the end goal of bringing families together that have been affected by substance abuse and parental involvement in the criminal justice system. The Family and Children’s Program consists of two components. The first is educational, and the second is in-person contact. Mothers receive parenting education and training. They are taught effective communication and discipline strategies, they learn how to set appropriate boundaries, and they receive guidance to help them understand basic parental responsibilities. Additional community support services are offered for all clients to complement their treatment plans.

These services are also extended to foster guardians caring for children of mothers undergoing treatment.

Moms are then given the opportunity to demonstrate their new skills in part two of the program, during which they are given the opportunity to connect with their children. They write letters, poems and make crafts for their children, which Alvis mails to help maintain the mother-child connection during their stay at Alvis. The mothers also have the opportunity to visit with their children twice each month, every first and third Saturday. Clients come together for a healthy meal, while spending time with their families. Research shows that families who eat meals together are stronger, which is why meals are at the center of family visit days, as caregivers and children join their mothers for a bonding experience. Usually, this also can involve participating in fun activities like games and taking lots of pictures. It’s during these in-person visits that moms get to put into practice the tools and training the program provides. These visits are also where we see the magic of reconnecting families. After graduation, an aftercare phase also allows mothers the opportunity to continue receiving services for up to two years after finishing their treatment through the program.

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience. We believe in the power of second chances and coming together as one community to affect change. With our reentry, behavioral health, developmental disabilities, workforce development, family and children services, and the community, we can make a lasting 180 impact. Learn more about Alvis and how you can get involved at www.Alvis180.org.

Black History Month 2020

This February at Alvis, we proudly celebrate Black History Month. Black History Month commemorates the pivotal role that African Americans have played in shaping our U.S. history, and allows us time to acknowledge the stories, struggles, and achievements that past and present members of the Black community have experienced.

The 2020 theme for this year’s Black History Month is “African Americans and the Vote,” honoring the 100-year landmark since the 19th Amendment, which granted women across the U.S. the right to vote, and the 150-year anniversary of the 15th Amendment, which gave African American men the right to vote in 1870.

Black History Month Alvis Blog

We thank our incredible African American staff members, clients, and leaders who represent Alvis and its mission to the fullest. 

Some of the talented individuals who have we have previously spotlighted in written pieces include Harry Cox, Keith Stevens, Terrance Hinton, Camilla Jackson, and our President and CEO, Denise M. Robinson. 

Keith Stevens is an Alvis board member, who began connecting with our organization in 2012 through his company, Proteam Solutions Inc. (PSI), in the late 1990s. Stevens previously served on the board of Community Connection for Ohio Offenders, another nonprofit that became a part of Alvis in 2012. He acknowledges the significance of Black mentorship, which he received during his teenage years working for and witnessing a successful Black family-owned business. Seeing people that could relate to him being successful gave him “nuggets of wisdom and the ability to imagine it for himself.”

He also touches on discrimination, finding that while he has faced his share of struggles and experienced racial discrimination firsthand, he encourages those who do experience adversity to “lean into” it, so they may grow and pursue their passions to the fullest—even if that might mean working twice as hard compared to people who do not experience the same hardships.

Harry Cox, Senior Cognitive Behavioral Specialist at Alvis, has directly mentored and served as a role model to our client population. After experiencing the justice system firsthand, he’s dedicated his life to helping others navigate similar challenges and experiences that he did many years ago. In a recent interview, Cox stresses the importance of client-centered therapy. “It’s not about me,” he continues to repeat. “My whole day consists of allowing a person to be themselves. Allowing them to get rid of some of the pain while they’re in the group room.” Our job at Alvis, according to Cox, is to give clients the tools they need to turn their own lives around.


Cox also acknowledges that his job doesn’t end when he leaves the reentry center for the day. After moving to Gahanna, he realized that he was further removed from the experiences of his clients, most of whom resided on Columbus’ East Side. “When I closed my door at night,” he reflects, “I couldn’t see my environment. I couldn’t see my community.” This led him to sell his house in Gahanna and move back to the East Side. Now, he’s involved with a number of local organizations, and engages with the community from the ground floor. “You ever walk into a place and every day you know that it’s going to be a new beginning? Not for you, but somebody else? That’s what I look forward to, walking in here every day.”

In one of our recent blog posts, we spotlighted Dr. Terrance Hinton, Program Manager of Reentry Services at Alvis, who oversees both EDGE and the H.I.R.E. program. The EDGE (Empower Development by Gaining Employment) Program is a five-month program assisting justice-involved individuals to overcome barriers to employment. It is a partnership between Alvis, the City of Columbus, and the Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio (WBDCO).

When it comes to our clients, Hinton holds the same perspective as Cox: “Reentry has always been a part of me, because I value second chances. I believe everyone should be given a second opportunity to become successful and become a productive member of society.” Helping clients unlock their maximum potential is a key motivator for Hinton to get out of bed every day.


Camilla Jackson is a Direct Support Professional (DSP) with Developmental Disability (DD) Services at Alvis. Jackson was recognized in June by the Licking County Board of Developmental Disabilities, winning two awards that commend her work as a DSP with Alvis: the Horizon Award and the Constellation Award. The Horizon Award celebrates Jackson’s ability to match people’s interest to events, and helping them expand their horizons, while the Constellation Award credits her capacity in providing opportunities for growth and advancement, helping co-workers become the brightest stars. 

One of the most rewarding aspects of Jackson’s job is simply being there for clients and listening to them. “I make sure that the guys are in good health, make sure they’re safe at all times.” She finds, too, that an essential component of the job is “making sure you treat them right,” and making sure “they have a good day.”

Finally, our President and CEO, Denise M. Robinson, has illustrated through her actions that she not only understands the plethora of key problems facing our community, but that it takes unity, empathy, and understanding to enact any sort of fundamental change. At our recent Amethyst graduation, she perfectly summed up what it means to be a true community advocate, telling graduates to keep us nearby “in case you need to shout down the voice of addiction when it tries to tempt you into returning to old habits,” and to know that they would “always have a personal cheering section” as they continue throughout life’s journey. 

As we celebrate this month, we recognize our own African American staff and leaders, many of whom, like the ones spotlighted above, are performing key roles (on and off the clock) in producing widespread, positive impact throughout the state.

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. Our vision is that communities value a person’s potential more than their past. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here.

National Working Parent’s Day

National Working Parents Day Alvis Blog

Parents do a lot for their kids—they constantly juggle scraped knees, runny noses, school schedules, and swim lessons. And, in the 21st century, many parents are doing all this while working fulltime jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in two-parent households, 49% consist of two working parents. Managing the tasks of parenthood on top of pressures of work can be challenging for these families.

Daisy Wademan Dowling of the Harvard Business Review says that most parental challenges can be divided into problems with: transition, practicalities, communication, loss, and identity. Maybe your kids are struggling with changing schools, feeling unable to express themselves, breaking up with a girlfriend, or feeling overwhelmed with busy schedules. She says the difference can be as simple as identifying the problem. “When people I’ve worked with… learn to see patterns in the strains they’re facing,” she explains, “they immediately feel more capable and in charge, which then opens the door to some concrete, feasible fixes.”

Dowling says working parents should complete these statements: ‘“I am a working-parent professional who…”; “I prioritize work responsibilities when…”; and “My kids come before work when….”’

Alvis client, Tracy Kirby, knows all about these steps for working parents. Tracy was in the justice system for nine years before entering Alvis’s doors. At that point, he had to choose his priorities and decide his next steps. Tracy says his children “[gave] me love [and] allowed me to love back. They have played a huge role in my recovery and new life.” Tracy now works as a chef at Coopers Hawk, and believes that providing for his children is his biggest priority.

So, the question is, how do we balance it all? How do we make sure we are prioritizing our children, staying successful in our work, and saving time for ourselves? Alvis understands the struggle and we see it in cases with parents who are also dealing with an ongoing struggle with sobriety and rehabilitation. Our program, Amethyst, is built so mothers can continue parenting their children while getting the help they need themselves. At the 2019 Amethyst graduation, twelve women received certificates of completion from the five-step rehabilitation program. One graduate, Courtney, said the day she drove herself to the facility, she did it only for her children. She found that, after completing treatment and recognizing her own worth and value, she now knows she wants to stay sober for herself as well.

No matter what your struggle is as a working parent, know that there are others out there who understand.  Whether it be taking a step back and analyzing your game plan as Dowling suggests, or reprioritizing your responsibilities as Tracy did, there are solutions out there to dealing with the stress of working families. And you are doing great. Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. Our vision is that communities value a person’s potential more than their past. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here

National Sober Day

Today is set aside to celebrate and support those who have chosen a path of sobriety. At Alvis, we recognize substance misuse as a disease and work to remove the stigma associated with those who are in or seeking recovery. Alvis believes that a person’s future is more important than his past and because of this, we advocate for and work with many people facing the battle of sobriety. 

The opioid crisis in Ohio is receiving so much attention because of the tragic number of fatalities each year. According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioid-induced deaths in Ohio are more than double the national average. Alvis’s POWER program, a rehabilitation program focused on helping those with opiate addiction, was established in 2016 and has admitted nearly three hundred clients. Our goal is to give these clients a second chance through education and treatment focused on addiction. 

As serious as the opiate epidemic has become, there is still a need for rehabilitation programs for many other forms of substance abuse, as well. JAMA Psychiatry found that, since the turn of the 21st century, alcoholism rates have risen 49% to the previous national average. One in eight American adults now meets the criterion to be considered a person with alcohol abuse disorder. 

Alvis has been a leader in the fight for sobriety since its establishment over fifty years ago. Our Recovery Choices Program focuses on cognitive-behavioral treatment and mentors our clients to recover from negative situations, cope with past trauma, and make positive choices for their futures. Our program, Amethyst, is a treatment option in which recovering women go through rehabilitation without being separated from their children. The program offers addiction treatment, housing options, medical services, psychological treatment, and training and placement in the workforce. Amethyst’s purpose is to empower the women and children in the program and focus on gender-specific needs of females going through recovery. 

No matter what kind of treatment a client needs, aftercare is crucial to Alvis because we know that many people recovering from substance misuse will struggle when returning to their previous environments. Our residential reentry centers focus on transitioning clients back to their own communities successfully and providing them with the support system they need. We have check-ins and post-program mentors that continue to work with clients even after they have completed the program. We know this works because our recidivism rate is nearly fifty percent less than the national rate as reported by the Bureau of Justice

The difference at Alvis is that our programs work toward comprehensive rehabilitation—that means adjusting the thought process, environment, and community network of each client, and then continuing support post-recovery. We believe that, if we provide evidence-based human services programs, we can support and empower our community members to build successful and healthy lives. We know our clients can turn their lives around and we are here fighting for those second chances. That is our 180 degree impact. 

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. Our vision is that communities value a person’s potential more than their past. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here.