The animated stick figures that fill up the screen in a new video on act4kidsnow.org are not for playing Hangman or a last-minute drawing for a sixth grade science fair poster.
Instead, they were carefully composed to the tell the story of the 424,000 children in the United States who are temporarily separated from their families and placed in the care of foster parents, according to the Center for the Advancement of Child Welfare Practice.
The video was created by staff of the center, along with a few University of South Florida students. It is part of the center’s new quality parenting initiative that seeks to further educate and train foster families about child behaviors and recruit new caring parents.
“A problem we were having is that parents have been recruited on a need basis. They’re brought in out of desperation. What can we do to get lots of really quality people in touch with the system?” asks Don Policella.
The video took about five months to create. Policella, who is a program director at the Florida Mental Health Institute, put together a panel of eight staff members and students who made the video and recruited Aaron Hutcheson, a USF music student, to provide the scoring.
“One challenge was getting everyone who was working on the video trained on what they needed to know about this program,” says Ron Menard, a web content administrator who worked on the project.
“We needed to communicate that children wind up in foster care for different reasons,” says Lisa Coy, who has also done research for the center and worked on the video.
The end product communicates that many children end up in foster homes for myriad reasons. Some parents are physically or emotionally unable to care for their children while others have problems with substance abuse or violence.
The staff hopes that the video will create a higher public interest in helping these kids. The video describes ways to help foster children such as tutoring, fund raising, sponsoring summer camps, and painting play rooms. Of course the ultimate assistance would be to become a foster parent, which the video covers as well.
The video ends with short clips of foster parents talking about their experiences in and encouraging others to join them. According to Family Service Department of Orlando, over 3,000 kids have been adopted or taken into foster care over the past three years.
Policella says that they are already receiving positive feedback from the state level and hopes that they will have good results when they assess the video’s effects next year.