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Videos let kids in foster care tell own stories

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Todd Cohen

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Since it was founded in 1902, Children’s Home Society of North Carolina has placed more than 14,000 children for adoption.

The Greensboro-based nonprofit, which serves over 6,500 families and children a year with adoption and foster-care services, now has added a new tool to help it promote adoption.

The agency has teamed up with Keen Innovations in Greensboro to produce videos in which kids in foster care and families wanting to adopt them can tell their own stories.

The videos will let children take a more active role in the adoption process and will give adopting parents a better sense of the children, and county departments of social services a better sense of adopting parents, before they actually meet, says Brian Maness, vice president of marketing and strategic initiatives at Children’s Home Society.

Over 10,000 children are in North Carolina’s foster-care system, and just over a third of them are available for adoption, says Maness.

To provide foster care or adopt children, families must be licensed and approved, a process that includes a home study by agencies such as Children’s Home Society and county departments of social services.

Families in the past first have “met” children by seeing their profile in a paper flyer or on the website of adoption agencies like Children’s Home Society, which places roughly 175 children a year for adoption.

And the state Division of Social Services operates a photo clearinghouse of kids in foster-care available for adoption at.

Now, for a fee of $250 that adoption agencies and county departments of social services pay to Children’s Home Society, Keen Innovations will produce a five-to-seven-minute “Adoption Chronicles” video in which foster children tell their own stories, including the kind of family they want and their hopes and dreams for the future.

“We have found that children speak better for themselves than we can for them,” Maness says.

All the videos will be streamed from a new website at adoptionchronicles.com to which agencies like Children’s Home Society can link, and agencies will get 25 copies of the videos for recruiting purposes.

The new site already is streaming 30 Adoption Chronicles videos.

And starting soon, families that want to adopt children can pay $250 to Children’s Home Society for Keen Innovations to make a video they can use to talk about themselves and give county departments of social services another tool, beyond paper reports on home visits, in making their decisions about whether the families can adopt children.

The Adoption Chronicles initiative builds on partnerships Children’s Home Society formed over five years ago with four television stations, including WXII, the NBC affiliate in Winston-Salem; WCCB, the Fox affiliate in Charlotte; WNCT, the CBS affiliate in Greenville; and WECT, the NBC affiliate in Wilmington.

Each week, the stations film and air during their evening news broadcasts a two-to-three-minute segment featuring a child available for adoption.

Another benefit of the Adoption Chronicles will be to give children “ownership and the central role” in the adoption process, and help reduce the fear about joining a new family experienced by many children in foster care, children who typically have been victims of abuse or neglect and been separated from their families, Maness says.

A former marketing professional for The Design Group in Greensboro, Maness says he plans to make increasing use of social media to better market and promote the work of Children’s Home Society and better connect families and children in foster care.

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