Where Children Find Hope
The boys at Christ Child House, a sort of modern-day orphanage in Detroit, represent just a sliver of Michigan’s foster care system and its more than 6,000 legal orphans. As they wait to be reunified with their own families or find new lives with adoptive parents, the boys grow up together sharing tears and tantrums, giggles and hugs, uncertain futures and some surprisingly happy endings. Christ Child is part therapeutic home to 31 boys who have already exhausted a string of foster homes. More than half the boys are legal orphans, their parents’ rights terminated because of abuse or neglect or abandonment.
The Detroit Free Press spent three years reporting and photographing the lives of children in a world the public rarely sees. In the past year it shot over 100 hours of video of these kids and their caretakers. The Michigan Department of Human Services, which rarely grants permission to openly photograph children in its custody, gave the newspaper this unusual access to highlight the plight of Michigan’s foster children, and encourage their adoption. (Last year, 530 legal orphans in Michigan reached their 18th birthdays still in state care, aging out of the system with no place to go.)
This six-part video series is accompanied by a gallery of 55 photographs and an exhaustive roundup of text stories and resources, providing a rare glimpse at lives we may hear about but rarely witness up close. Its chief accomplishment is providing faces and voices for kids who have little control over their destiny – and the adults who are devoted to giving them the care and guidance that their parents failed to provide. Its goal is to enlighten citizens about our flawed foster care systems, and to encourage caring adults to contribute to Christ Child or even consider adopting one of its residents.
WINNER: Emmy, New Approaches to News and Documentary category
Chapter 1: Growing up in foster care (2:44)
Chapter 2: A look inside (11:19)
Chapter 3: Good-bye circle (6:52)
Chapter 4: Life outside (6:56)
Chapter 5: Looking forward (7:33)
Chapter 6: Behind the scenes (4:39)
Photo/Video Project Leader: Kathy Kieliszewski
Videographer and Producer: Brian Kaufman
Lead Photographer: Kathleen Galligan
Photographers: Regina Boone, Brian Kaufman, Romain Blanquart
Reporters: Robin Erb, Kathleen Galligan, Regina Boone, Kristi Tanner, Brian Kaufman