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Special Project

Special Project
From the 16th Annual Shorty Awards

What’s causing the foster care crisis — and how to fix it

Entered in Documentary


Video Journalism: sponsored content reporting of the larger issue of the American Foster care system. Our objective is to shift paradigms and challenge existing norms on how the foster care system is set up and present alternative, community-led solutions that offer more effective outcomes for children and families impacted by poverty.

We seek to feature innovative and creative non-profit leaders (change makers) who have discovered surprising insights that have driven their unique solution to a societal problem and explore why and how it’s working.


Strategy and Execution

We identified the subject of the story through our partner’s network of grantees, and were eager to learn more about how their approach has helped over 200,000 families avoid losing their children to foster care, or reunite. Over a six-week period, we conducted interviews with various families, government officials, faith partners, and the social entrepreneur to ask questions and develop storylines. We uncovered the story of one woman, who was a mother of 5 that had lost her children to the State through a mix of circumstances related to poverty and violent physical abuse that happened to her children while they were being babysat. In order to tell her story faithfully, we needed the participation of Child Development Services (state officials) who were willing to share their side of the story as well. We were able to cover and report on the story in a multi-faceted and emotional way, while ensuring we maintained and upheld our subject’s dignity. We knew her story would be hard to tell - and we wanted to ensure that she was positioned in an accurate light; a good mother, who loves her children, who made a terrible mistake and still to this day feels pain about it. Balancing these subjects' dignity and ensuring they are portrayed well and we protect their story is one of the hardest, but most rewarding challenges of documentary storytelling.


This video successfully shifted the paradigms of audiences that watched it both about:
1. Fostercare (example: FROM: All Parents who lose their children to foster care are bad parents or don't care about their kids TO: Insight: The majority of parents that lose their children to fostercare are affected by poverty and lack of community/relationships).

2. Solutions to Poverty (Example: FROM: The best solution to help experience poverty is to give them financial gifts, or shelter TO: The best solution to help people in need is a relationship that provides wrap around community based support that delivers on the specific needs of each family to lift them out of poverty).

With over 75k views already, including over 500 in the first 24 hours, the performance of this video demonstrates double the median of our other videos in both retention and positive engagement across all channels.

We consider the careful and comprehensive storytelling of a sensitive, nuanced narrative about our subject's family during a challenging situation as a team success. Our partner at CarePortal has expressed that this presentation represents the most robust expression of their vision and principles in action that they have ever encountered.



Video for What’s causing the foster care crisis — and how to fix it

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Freethink Media, Stand Together Foundation

Entry Credits