UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families Supports Initiative to Spread Awareness of Foster Care

Pritzker Center funding supports new Center for Scholars & Storytellers Video Series that aims to lessen stigma by portraying life in and after foster care.

When you plant seeds, good things grow.

In 2019, with its inaugural round of child welfare innovation grants, the UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families made an investment in the work of Yalda T. Uhls, PhD, at the Center for Scholars & Storytellers at the UCLA Department of Psychology.  The grant was given in support of a project called, Using the Power of Media to Positively Influence Foster Care Perceptions, which also includes participation by Professor George Huang at the UCLA Department of Television, Theatre and Film, and Marianne Guilfoyle, chief innovations officer for Allies for Every Child.

This project brings together researchers, community members and entertainment leaders to collaborate on how to use the power and scale of entertainment media to empower youth currently in the foster care system and lessen the stigma of what it means to be a foster child through positive media portrayals. The project team is also working to educate and build awareness among the public about issues facing young people in foster care. 

“Supporting the work of the Center for Scholars & Storytellers was an easy decision for us. Changing the way the world perceives foster care and the children in it is not only important to us but important to the thousands of kids and families experiencing the system each day,” said Tyrone Howard, Ph.D., director of the UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families. “Ending the stigma will go a long way toward enhancing foster parent recruitment, promoting mentorship, and ultimately healing our children and their communities.”

The grant is paying off. This spring, in recognition of Foster Care Month, Blackish star Marcus Scribner teamed up with the Center for Scholars & Storytellers, the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, and Allies for Every Child to create and share a series of inspirational videos about life during and after foster care.

One of the featured videos includes a message from Bobby Cagle, MSW, director of the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services, the largest child welfare agency in the United States, who was adopted through foster care as an infant. 

The videos are available on YouTube and YouTube Kids, an app built for children and used by tens of millions of people every week.

“We are grateful that so many people supported this effort to showcase accurate and empowering portrayals of foster care. We hope families will enjoy the videos and use our talking points to help their children learn more about this community,” Uhls said.

An average of 443,000 children were in foster care in the U.S. on any given day in 2017. Approximately 69,000 children were waiting to be adopted. Current media storylines regarding youth in foster care are too often filled with negative stereotypes and the collaboration is out to change that.

“We hope the release of these videos will inspire and provide hope to young children and teens who are currently in foster care as well as those with previous foster care experiences and lead to new people getting involved in positively impacting the foster care community,” says Guilfoyle. 

“There is more to kids’ lives than the time they spent in foster care,” added Huang. “During National Foster Care Month, we want to show just how amazing and accomplished kids from foster care are.”

The UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families child welfare innovation grants are made possible by the Anthony & Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation. The grants, ranging from $5,000 to $20,000, are designed to encourage and further research and collaboration across the UCLA campus and throughout Los Angeles County to benefit children and families.