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Depicting Foster Care &
At Risk Children & Youth
Aging Out: Where do we go from here?

Brian NEW HeadshotA Message from EIC's President, CEO & Co-Founder, Brian Dyak

For children in foster care, finding a loving home may only be temporary. Once a child ‘ages out’ or leaves the system (between the ages of 18-21) they are on their own. Financially and legally responsible for themselves, they may face challenges that most young adults their age do not come in contact with. These challenges may cause them to turn to drugs or prostitution, or to become homeless because they lack the resources to take care of themselves. These children, often referred to as ‘at risk,’ are in need of mentors, services, and social change.

For you, the creative community, these children offer inspiration, depth, and a new direction for possible characters and storylines that you may want to explore. The tumultuous ‘aging out’ experience itself is rich with emotional turmoil and self-exploration that could fit into everything from a high school drama to a police show or legal drama. I encourage you to explore this newsletter and our Picture This: Foster Care and Picture This: At Risk Children & Youth publications to find new inspiration for storylines, featuring these children and young adults, to find new ways to sensitively and authentically portray these topics.

Did you know?

Each year approximately 20,000 youth age out of Foster Care all around the United States. Of those, 25% had been homeless and more than half (51%) were unemployed.
Click here for more statistics.

 In this issue...
  • A Message from Brian Dyak
  • Suggestions for Depicting 'Aging Out'
  • Real People, Real Stories
  • Did you know?
  • Profile On: The Blind Side
Real People,
Real Stories

Although a positive family environment and supportive adult role models can make a positive impact on the life of a foster child after they have aged out of the system, some children are still forced to make difficult decisions and can experience negative consequences upon aging out. A recent article in the Los Angeles Times reported that within L.A. County, a high majority of the young people arrested on prostitution charges came from the Foster Care system, and more specifically, group homes. In response, the Los Angeles County Board has instituted a task force to address the ongoing issue.

Click here for more!

EIC Resources

PT Foster Care Cover
Picture This: Foster Care

Screen shot 2012-06-22 at 4.32.50 PM
Picture This: At Risk Children & Youth

 Suggestions for Depicting 'Aging Out'

When considering stories involving foster care and foster children, depicting the reality of aging out can provide the opportunity for your character to explore the challenges and emotional hardships that many children in foster care system face every day. Consider these suggestions as a way to frame your thinking about this topic:
  • Aging out refers to when a youth emancipates or leaves foster care because they turn a certain age, such as 18 or 21. There are dramatic, and oftentimes negative, outcomes that can happen to young people who exit the foster care system without a permanent connection to caring, loving and supportive adults. Consider portraying realistic outcomes including mental health-related issues, homelessness, post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction, criminal acts, reduced educational achievement, domestic violence and unintended pregnancies.
  • Consider portraying the realities of foster care, including the struggles involved in starting over. This may include depictions of not only losing old families, but also old coaches, friends, pastors, and other important people.
  • Conversely, consider depicting positive outcomes of young people who are connected with a loving, supportive adult or social network. This can include connections established with siblings, birth parents, foster families, the community, educational system and others. Portraying these connections is essential to demonstrate the importance of relationships and establishing permanence in a foster child's life. For example, just as a photo album serves as a glimpse into a person's life and background, personal relationships emphasize past connections and a sense of self.

 Profile On: The Blind Side

The Blind SideThe Blinde Side Poster tells the story of Michael Oher, a homeless youth whose mother was a drug addict and whose father was out of the picture. Michael fit every description of an "at risk youth," he was poor, on the streets, and relatively on his own until he was discovered by Leigh Anne Tuohy, who gave him a home and the opportunity to find his true calling. This feature film starring Sandra Bullock won the actress an Oscar but it was also a heart warming true story of a youth at risk who was able to overcome the odds.

This story highlights the importance of a strong support system when it comes to children reaching their full potential. With the support of the Tuohy family, Michael was encouraged to follow his passions and enrolled in his high school football program. The film showcases that this was a turning point that would define a young man's future. When Michael was finally able to focus on something he enjoyed as opposed to his own survival he discovered a talent that would ultimately lead him to play for the Baltimore Ravens and this year win the biggest game in the NFL, the Super Bowl.

Just as Michael was able to succeed when someone stepped in to encourage him, so do many other foster children and at risk youth when they can find support -- through their foster families, mentors or other resources that may be available to them. Consider ways that your stories can explore both the risk that children face when they 'age out' and are left on their own as well as the important role that adult role models can play in making the difference in their lives.

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EIC's FREE Technical Assistance Resource 
to the Creative Community!

To set up your own FREE First Draft Consultation with one of our experts contact Ashley Jupin: 
or 818-861-7782
Save the Date!
The 17th Annual PRISM Awards are set to take place on April 25, 2013 at the Beverly Hills Hotel
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Dr. Drew Pinsky hosts the
16th Annual PRISM Awards Showcase!
The 16th Annual PRISM Awards Showcase is available on cable systems carrying
FX On Demand and online at
Click here to view!

Click here for excerpts from this year's show and check out 

for updates!

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