Foster Care System
We probably know more people that have gone through the foster care system than we realize. The numbers are alarming and growing daily. Foster care is more than not having family to care for you, it’s about survival. It’s time to put things in perspective.
The for-profit foster care system at any one time has 430,000 American children on it’s roster. This alarming number is an open lane to many wanting to help, and for many the opportunity to only add insult to injury by taking children in only to abuse and neglect them. It’s an overwhelming cycle that’s on repeat for many with some children being placed into good, caring homes and some that share the story of Foster Boy.
Unfortunately, the darker side of foster care overshadows the brighter side when you look at the facts and when you listen to the children. Many aren’t offered the opportunity to reform themselves from such cruel treatment. The untreated sexual, emotional and psychological abuse produces adults that are more likely than most to experience incarceration, unemployment and homelessness.
Foster Boy is based on true events telling a gut wrenching story about a boy’s journey through the private sector foster care system and the inevitability of aging out of the system into adulthood. The story unfolds with a raw truth that many may not be prepared for. Atleast, I wasn’t. Jamal Randolph (Shane Paul McGhie) is a product of the foster care system and knowingly suffers abuse for many years moving between various homes, even some with known sex offenders robbing him of his childhood through repeated sexual abuse.
It’s obvious that his mental health has suffered as a result as he displays abrupt, angry and disrespectful outbursts to his attorney, Michael Trainer (Matthew Modine) whom placed Randolph in the hands of a known sexual abuser. Trainer has a reputation of protecting large corporations but is assigned this case by Judge George Taylor (Louis Gossett, Jr.) as a way to teach the mega successful lawyer a lesson on humanity and to accept a responsibility that he helped to create. I’d say that it’s a lesson well learned as he has to connect with his client Jamal, in an effort to understand how to represent him as Jamal seeks justice that can’t be measured in cash.
Jamal may have been naive in his demands, but this seems to have worked to his benefit. In his court testimony, Randolph recites an emotional rap song that he wrote about his abuse. Neither the jury nor his attorney could deny his pain. Although Jamal Randolph had no monetary intent with his lawsuit, the courts awarded him with a surprisingly large settlement in the end. You can’t put a price on abuse but there are some things that money can help to change.
Putting Things In Perspective
NBA legend and executive producer of Foster Boy, Shaquille O’Neal is putting things in perspective by shining light on the foster care crisis saying that “it’s time to make our foster kids a priority. ” He wrote that he will not give up on foster kids because of valuable lessons he learned growing up in Newark, New Jersey.
As a kid police officer, Michael Parris or Uncle Mike, had great influence on O’Neal teaching him that there are no shortcuts in life and always value and take pride in a feeling of accomplishment. Shaquille was lucky, he did not grow up in the foster care system and had a mentor and role model and find it hard to imagine what would have become of him without a positive influential voice.
It’s time to make our foster kids a priority ~ Shaquille O’Neal
Call To Action: You Can Help
America is full of foster boys and girls not receiving basic protection that we all deserve. Foster Boy’s call to action is to care deeply and to lend support to actions and efforts easing the burden and equipping children of the foster care system to be better prepared to live secure and fulfilling lives beyond foster care.
They are ways to help from volunteering, to providing foster care, to donations to keep these organizations alive.
First Star, a national public charity, improves the lives of foster youth by partnering with child welfare agencies, universities, and school districts through innovative college-preparatory programs that ensure foster youth have the academic, life skills, and adult supports needed to successfully transition to higher education and adulthood.
Children’s Rights, a national watchdog organization, fights to protect and defend the rights of young people and holds state governments accountable to America’s most vulnerable children through strategic advocacy and legal action.
Children’s Advocacy Institute, University of San Diego School of Law, is one of the nation’s premier academic, research, and advocacy organization, seeks to improve the lives of children and youth through impact litigation, legislative and regulatory advocacy, and public education. CAI places special emphasis on improving the child protection and foster care systems and enhancing resources available to youth aging out of foster care.
Canadian Premiere at the Toronto Black Film Festival
Foster Boy made its Canadian premiere at the TorontoBlackFilmFestival this February (2021) as a feature film. The Toronto Film Festival was held virtually this year giving viewers a high quality in home cinematic experience with the opportunity to screen Foster Boy and many others.
The Toronto Black Film Festival is dedicated to giving unique voices in cinema the opportunity to present audiences with new ways of looking at the world. A dynamic, refreshing and audacious Festival whose ambition is to encourage the development of the independent film industry and to promote more films on the reality of Black people from around the Globe.
Directed by: Youssef Delara
Written by: Jay Paul Deratany
Cast: Shane paul McGhie, Matthew Modine, Louis Gossett Jr. , Michael Hyatt, Michael Beach, Greg German, Julie Benz and Lex Scott Davis
Produced by: Shaquille O’Neal, Jay Paul Deratany, Andrew Sugerman, Peter Samuelson, Annie Marie Mackay and Michael Parris
*This post is in collaboration with Toronto Black Film Festival. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.
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