Directions for Youth & Families has roots dating back to 1899, when Associated Charities was established. Through many years, many name changes, and several mergers, they became Crittenton Family Services in 1992, offering counseling and other intervention and education services to families and children. In 1968, Juvenile Probation Council and Friends In Action were formed. These two additional service organizations would become the basis of DFYF’s Prevention services (with counseling & clinical services available as well). They merged in 1983 to form Directions For Youth. By merging Crittenton Family Services and Directions For Youth in 1999 a new, highly effective organization was created providing innovative, culturally sensitive and effective counseling and programming to the Franklin County community.

Directions for Youth and Families offers a range of clinical services as well as educational, after-school, and summer programs. Most programs are provided to youth on an outreach basis in their homes, schools, and other community settings–to reduce barriers to treatment and provide services in the environment they are needed. Some office-based services are also available. DFYF includes 15 clinical counseling programs that address a range of issues including school concerns, delinquency, violence, mental health issues, child abuse and neglect, family conflict, sexual abuse, substance use, and grief or loss. All of DFYF’s licensed clinicians, prevention specialists and after-school workers have been trained in the Attachment, Self-Regulation and Competency (ARC) model of Trauma-Informed and Resiliency-Oriented Care. This cutting edge brain science connects mental health with physical health.

The educational services at DFYF include an in-home kindergarten readiness program and parenting classes. Ready Set Grow is a program available in the home for families with children 3 – 6 years-old who feel their child may not be quite ready for school. The six month program consists of weekly 1 -2 hour session, weekly appointments to work with the child, educational materials, connections to community resources, and parental education about child development. The Positive Paths Parenting program is for parents or caregivers with children of any age who are in need of learning basic parenting skills. Classes are offered in many different time frame combinations and each class series has up to eight hours of instruction.

After school and summer programs at DFYF provide homework help, computer labs, leadership development, recreation and creative arts, and programming. DFYF operates two youth centers that offer this programming, the Ohio Avenue Youth Center and the Crittenton Center for youth 8 – 18 years-old.

DFYF is also the trauma resource in Central Ohio, providing trainings in schools for teachers and administration in understanding trauma and strengthening resiliency in youth. They were one of the 18 Crittenton Family of Agency members that piloted the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) survey. Duane Casares, CEO of DFYF, was invited to the White House to present the findings of the ACE survey and the implications and impact that trauma has one one’s life expectancy.

Duane Casares, LISW-S, has held the CEO leadership role for Directions for Youth & Families since 2011. He has been with DFYF since 1990 holding the position of Clinical Director for most of his tenure. As CEO, Duane has led the organization to be one of the leading mental health providers to Central Ohio youth and their families. The agency has adopted a resiliency-oriented, trauma-informed format that informs all of their programming. Duane has coordinated agency-wide changes in structure and programming leading to ODADAS, ODMH, and COA accreditation. Duane was featured in the 2014 edition of Who’s Who in Latino Columbus. He has a weekly segment on Columbus Perspective addressing community and mental health issues on 97.1 The Fan radio station of Ohio News Network. Duane received his Master of Social Work from The Ohio State University. His background as a Clinician, research/lecturer and CEO has informed him as a presenter, trainer, consultant, CEU provider, and educator.