There are a lot of Youtube videos on these subjects. Unfortunately, not many are from the UK. Most are from the USA. However, all of them are worth watching. We have mainly focussed on videos which heavily feature the voices of, or are even made by, children in care or care leavers. There are many more YouTube videos on these subjects that I have not included, so have a browse. I’m sure there will be some good ones that I have missed. Otherwise, click on the links below to take you straight to whichever videos sound most interesting.
A word about terminology: in the USA, the term ‘foster care’ refer to most out-of-home care. This means both foster care (in the UK sense) and residential care (children’s homes). Also, what we in the UK call ‘leaving care’, over in the USA they call ‘aging out’. A Care Leaver in the USA is also known as a Care Alumni.
Also, be aware that some of these films are made as promotional material by child welfare organisations, so they are keen to present their organisation in a good light. The videos are still very worthwhile, in my view (or I wouldn’t have included them), but just don’t take them at face value. Think about, for example, what they may not be saying.
Jim Goddard (Chair), 2013
‘Aging Out Foster Youth (Part 1)’: The issues raised will be very familiar, even though this is about the USA. It even features the fact that care leavers carry their possessions in bin bags. It also has some useful statistics.
‘Aging Out of Foster’: general review of leaving care, focussing on one young care leaver. Good discussion of the issues and the need for reform.
‘What Happens When You Are Too Old For Foster Care?’: A 2009 story about aging out of foster care in Utah. Local television news looks briefly at the issues and interviews one young care leaver.
‘Stories of Aging Out – Bailey’: One young woman talks very powerfully about her time in care, her relationship with her mother and her leaving care experience. In the same format and part of the same programme is ‘Stories of Aging Out – Shane’, in which an older care leaver, long since left, talks about his experiences in care and of aging out. Gives a very good hindsight view of what happened, given that he has now moved on very considerably from his care experience.
‘When Youth Age-Out’: features interviews and case studies. Get through the first minute; it gets much better after that. Ruth White, a child welfare advocate and one of the interviewees, gives an excellent overview of the issues.
‘Aging Out.short version and commentary. Part 1’: This is an advertising promo for an organisation that works with children leaving care (The Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative), but it still gives a good view of the issues facing young mothers when they have left care. Here is the second part: ‘Aging Out.shortversion and commentary.part 2’. You could then watch ‘Dr. Mark Courtney Discuss the Impact of the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative’. This one discusses some of the issues involved in improving services for young people leaving care.
‘From Place to Place‘: This is a trailer for a full-length US film about two young people leaving care and their attempt to influence policy on ‘aging out’. Although it is just a trailer, I’m including it because you can order the full DVD from www.fromplacetoplacemovie.com. Be aware that because it is a US film there may well be compatibility issues. If it is ‘Region 1’ then it won’t play on most european DVD players and you will need a multi-region player. It looks like an interesting film and on the strength of the trailer I have ordered a copy for the CLA and will try to provide a review at some point.
‘Children in Foster Care’: interviews with various young people who have been in care. It gives a rosy image of foster care, without any of the qualifications that experience suggests are there, but at least it focuses on the voice of the young people.
‘Psychiatry Drugs Foster Care Children’: six seperate interviews with Elnita, Tristin, Aisha, Kyle, Ashley, and Joshua. This is a series of videos of young people talking about their experiences of being drugged in the child care system. It was undertaken through the organisation ‘Foster Care Alumni of America‘ (FCAA). This is an issue that has occurred over here in the UK, of course. The FCAA is a bit like The Care Leavers’ Association, but unlike ourselves it has a parent organisation that supports it (check out their website for more about them). The main videos of their ‘I Am Here’ campaign are available here and here. There are other videos in their campaign featuring FCAA members. One features a number of care leavers on a panel, speaking to care workers about dealing with anger when in care. Watch it here. One of the speakers on the panel also features in a news story in Cleveland. You can listen to her being interviewed about her ‘Purple Project’ here and being questioned about her project here. There are other, shorter campaign videos on Youtube.
‘We’re Not Stopping Here! – Youth Leaving Care 2012’: This is a short item, presented by a care leaver, about a group of care leavers lobbying the Ontario Parliament in Canada during 2011. Rasheeda, the presenter, talks more about herself here.
‘Irwin’s Rant’: Irwin Elman, Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth of Ontario, talks about the hearings covered in the above item. It’s not really a rant. Some of his workers, care leavers, also talk.
‘Youth Leaving Care’: a long (42 minutes) and fascinating round-table discussion about the issues of leaving care in Canada. The programme was clearly prompted by the 2011 Ontario Parliament hearings discussed in the above two items. The programme features a couple of care leavers alongside various adults who are involved in the child care system. The statistics and the issues are very, very similar to those in the UK.
Leaving Care in New York City: This is one for the policy anoraks. It is a film of a recent (2011) conference that features the launch of a report on leaving care and a round-table discussion of the issues. These issues are very similar to the ones that we find in the UK. It is a long film; just under two hours.
‘Restraint and Drugging of Children in Care: Looked After Children No 2 Abuse.mp4‘. This is a short film with a UK perspective on the issue of drugs in care. It is by Teresa Cooper, who is an older care leaver who has been campaigning on this subject for many years. Unfortunately, the sound disappears half way through. You can find out a lot more about her work and views by just doing a simple google search of her name or via the web address at the end of her video.
‘What foster care taught me’ a celebration of fostering. This is a British video. It features interviews with both foster parents and foster children. Also interesting because it features Edward Timpson MP and his parents, who fostered a lot of children whilst raising Edward. Edward Timpson is currently Chair of the Associate Parliamentary Group for Children and Young People in and Leaving Care, so he is a key figure in those pushing for improvement in the current child care system in the UK. It seems to be a promotional video for the charity The Adolescent and Children’s Trust (TACT), so it does tend to focus on the positive stories. There are quite a lot of TACT videos on the site and a number of them feature care leavers. This one – Zoe’s thoughts on leaving care – is interesting about the issues facing care leavers who want to go to university. Another one – Jess’s thoughts on leaving care – argues that the leaving care age should be raised to 21.
ITV Fixers: ‘No Care – West Country‘ focusses on a care leaver from Plymouth, Jez Barnshaw, discussing the loss of support once you have left care. It also features a brief interview with adult care leaver David Akinsanya. Jez is setting up a film about leaving care, interspersed with interviews. That film features in the second part, called ‘Careless Whispers‘. The film is interspersed with comments by adult care leavers Lemm Sissay and Teresa Cooper, as well as former boxer Frank Bruno (who was in Borstal when young). Another ITV Fixers film, ‘Kids in Care‘ features a young woman discussing her experiences in foster care. There is some rapping involved.
Scotland: What it is like leaving care. Here are two films, about fifteen minutes each, about leaving care in Scotland. They were made in 2011 by Social Care Social Work Improvement Scotland. They feature a lot of interviews with young care leavers. They also explain the rights that care leavers have. There is some useful advice but hearing the experiences of the young people themselves is the most helpful part of the films. Part One is here and Part Two is here.
Wales: Swansea young care leaver talks about his experiences. It’s a four-minute interview with a 22-year-old care leaver. Talks about some of the common difficulties and experiences.
‘Kids in Care‘: a UK Channel Four short film made by Charlotte Bligh, a young woman in care. She interviews her friends in care. The second half is just music over scenes of children playing darts but the first part features brief comments from the young people about the good and bad things about being in care.
‘Speech by Sarah Lawrence – Children in Care Council‘: This was at a conference in Oxfordshire, UK. Sarah Lawrence was Co-Chair of the local Children in Care Council and gives a short speech.
‘Foster care — children & young people in Richmond‘: An event in Richmond, UK, asking several young people from foster care about the positives and negatives of life in care, what is important and what needs improving. It’s a bit gimmicky and it’s led by the professionals, but it does feature some interesting comments from the young people.
‘Being a young person in care made me vulnerable (Preventing Offending .co.uk)‘: Charlie Daniels is an author (‘Priceless’). She was brought up in foster care and then entered prostitution. She now campaigns around women in prison and prostitution. There are other videos on there by Charlie Daniels, discussing her work in this area, if you are interested.
Foster Youth.mov: Not sure if this is a promotional video but it features lots of positive stories about foster care. However, since it exclusively focusses on the views of children in care and care leavers I thought it worth including anyway.
‘Outgrowing Foster Care’: short film on a young women’s advocacy project, featuring mentoring by young women from the foster care system.
‘The Foster Care System Exposed!’: an extract from a women’s daytime television news feature with a young woman who was abused in foster care. Short but useful summary of some of the issues. Some agency self-promotion.
‘Reflections On Aging Out of Foster Care’: extract from a radio programme (National Public Radio), so just photos and audio. A couple of young people talk about their leaving care experiences.
‘Former Foster Youth, Still Struggling’: short interview with a young person who left care a few years ago.
‘Foster Care Advocates and Stakeholders Call for Overall System Reform’: Brief news overview of political activity and issues in California in relation to children leaving care. On the same subject is ‘New Report Finds the Benefits of Extending Foster Care Outweigh Costs’: This is a short news report on political action on extending the leaving care age in California from 18 to 21. California Assembly Speaker Karen Bass makes all the right, sensible arguments. Again on the same subject is: ‘The Price of Extending Foster Care to Age 21 Outweighs the Cost’. This is another short news item on the benefits of extending the leaving care age in California to 21. Some brief comments from care leavers as well as politicians.
‘National Foster Care Report’: NBC news report on children in care. Short news investigation focussing on the numbers of children who go missing from care.
‘Hope’s Boy on CBS Early Show’: An interview with a former child in care, Andrew Bridge, who was abused in the system and became an author and a lawyer. He went on to run The Alliance for Children’s Rights. There is a further interview, ‘Andrew Bridge Interview on KCET/PBS’, where Bridge discusses his advocacy work in relation to the child care system in California.
‘Kids in care part 1/2. Ben Westwood talks about his experience of social services’: A rare British video. An adult care leaver in the UK (sounds to be from the West Midlands) talks about the care system and his experiences in it. Amateur and informal video style but an interesting talk and gives a very thoughtful, considered view of a range of issues. The story continues in ‘Kids in care part 2/2. Ben Westwood talks more about his experiences of social services’. Then view ‘Childrens homes – Ben Westwood talks on the effects of rules and regulations’: The picture’s rather dark but Ben Westwood gives an interesting personal view of the experience of residential care. Not everyone will share his view of the respective pros and cons of foster care and residential care, but then we all have different views on that subject.
‘Foster Care Interview 3’: interview with two children from foster care. Part of a series produced by a fostering organisation to promote fostering. The other interviews are with foster parents (just look for ‘Foster Care Interview 1’ or 2 or 4 if you want to view them. Obviously, these are selling foster care so there will be a lot that is unsaid with respect to fostering experiences. However, this one is still worth listening to because it focuses on the view of the young people themselves.
‘Life After Foster Care: Our Stories’: interviews with various young people in the USA (Pennsylvania) looking back on their foster care experience and the process of leaving care. It’s a promotional film but still interesting.
Foster Care (A Personal Story): No video and no sound. Just a series of slides over a black background. However, it is far more evocative than many videos. Written by a young person with some trenchant things to say about her foster care experience. I think this is Canadian. I have heard similar things from those who were in foster care in the UK. There are some great foster parents out there who are worth their weight in gold, but there are lots of poor ones who shouldn’t be allowed to look after a dog let alone a child.
‘Foster Care’: an older care leaver (aged 41) who was in care in Canada does an informal film discussing his experience and its effects on him today. Gives a good sense of some of the long-term effects of a childhood in care. He raises issues about the long-term consequences of growing up in care that we in the CLA know are very important but are rarely if ever discussed publicly. A calm, measured and thoughtful talk, particularly given the difficult personal issues he is discussing. He clearly wants responses from people and would probably welcome contact from fellow care leavers. Shows what can be done on Youtube, even with minimal technology.
‘Youth In Transition out of Foster Care’: short news documentary about leaving care in Arizona. Once again, mentions that when young people leave care at 18 they typically do so on their birthday with their possessions in ‘garbage bags’. We know all about this in the UK, of course. It’s a stark illustration that the anti-bin-bag campaign of A National Voice (ANV) in the UK, which they have been running for a number of years now, has international relevance (take a look at ANV’s ‘Supersonic‘ video, which features interviews with some of us older care leavers. It was made a few years ago. They also have a video about A National Voice on the same page, featuring the young people that ANV works with and that help to run it. This video discusses their ‘no-bin-bag’ campaign). The Arizona video is very good on outlining the issues that we all know about. Mainly features interviews with adults but also some with young people. It’s something of a promotional piece but still worthwhile.
NATDVD: This is short video featuring a care leaver from Leeds, Nattylyn, who is a member of The Care Leavers’ Association. Nattylyn left care over ten years ago and reflects on her experience. She focusses on such issues as being black within a white foster care setting.
‘Forward Advocacy Foster Care Video – Education’: good overview of the issues around education and children in care. Again, this is a USA video so bear in mind that the education system is different. Features interviews with young and older care leavers about their educational experience but is mainly based on interviews with professionals. Issues raised are very similar to those in the UK. Another discussion of the problems of children in care with respect to their education is given here: School Stability for Foster Children. In the video, Vanessa discusses her own experience of frequent moves when in care and the disruption this caused to her schooling.
‘Care Leavers in Higher Education’: This is a short UK film made by care leavers at Huddersfield University with the assistance of ‘ITV Fixers’. It provides a lot of useful advice and discussion of what it is like at university when you have come from the care system.
‘My Life in a Suitcase’: a 17-year-old young woman, Aishling, shortly to leave care, discusses her family background and her experience of moving 40 times whilst in care. This is a British video, funded by the Department for Children, Schools and Families.
‘18 and Out: Foster Youth’: Student documentary on leaving care. 18+ minutes. Very focussed on the views of young people from the foster care system. Well worth watching. Despite being made by students (or perhaps because of it), it’s better than many professional documentaries on this subject.
‘Foster Care Stories Clip‘: extract from a Maryland Public Television Documentary. One young person’s experience in foster care.
‘Sam Harris (Surviving Foster Care) – Part 1’: interview with a young man about surviving the foster care system. It seems to be part of a promotional effort, but still worth watching. It is in two parts, so here is the second part: ‘Sam Harris (Surviving Foster Care) – Part 2’.
After that, try ‘Katherine Bellew – (Surviving Foster Care)’, a short interview with an adult care leaver about her experience in foster care. Then have a look at ‘Allison Bellew – (Surviving Foster Care)’: another short interview with an adult care leaver. I think she is the sister of Katherine Bellew.
Why Me? Entering Foster Care: This is a promotional video that is selling a book, so bear that in mind when you watch it. However, I’ve included it because of the brief interviews with young people who grew up in care. There are a few from the USA and one from Germany. Their thoughts about entering care are very evocative.
‘My experience/explanation of foster care’: self-made film by a man (age 25) discussing his experience in foster care in the USA. Very thoughtful on the personal issues involved.
Ventura County Foster Care Series: these are promotional videos so are unfailingly upbeat, but they give a good insight into how foster care is sold by local government, and some of the issues it deals with, in the USA. My aunt and uncle live in this area, so I’ve visited it a number of times. It’s a lovely part of California. This shows a different side to the place, even though it is still a very positive one. To hear more from the foster carers, look at ‘Ventura County Foster Care Part 1 of 4′, ‘Part 2 of 4’ and ‘Part 3 of 4’. However, it is only ‘Ventura County Foster Care Part 4 of 4’ that contains interviews with a couple of former foster children. That’s not the balance you’d hope for.
‘Confronting Stereotypes About Youth in Foster Care (Part 1) and (Part 2)’: several young people in care and care leavers discuss the stereotyping they experience. Care leavers in the UK will be very familiar with the issues presented here. Indeed, the similarities are uncanny and revealing.
‘Rare 1964 Interview with Norma Jeane’s Foster Parents’: the title says it all. Marilyn Monroe’s experience in foster care is covered briefly here in a documentary from after her death. It also contains some brief comments from Monroe about her experience in foster care. She was in an orphanage for a short period, but was mainly in foster care in the UK sense.