Los Angeles County has the largest population of Transitional Age Youth or TAY (ages 16-24) in foster care. Of the 28,000 foster youth in LA County, more than 4,400 are TAY. Of that figure, approximately half are homeless, one third are unemployed, and one quarter are incarcerated after leaving care. While 80% of kids in foster care want to pursue a college degree, due to many barriers, only 24% enroll, and only 3% will graduate.
In 2014, PBS SoCal brought partners together to achieve systemic change by developing and advocating for a comprehensive new framework to address the unique needs of TAY, and create new education and career pathways to ensure their success. Our role as public media is to use our media power to effect social change by sparking dialogue, challenging stereotypes, and inspiring action among the Southern Californians we serve.
PBS SoCal has since facilitated production workshops for over 50 transition-aged youth to teach cinematography, editing, music and sound mixing. From these workshops, youth were selected to participate in additional photography and writing workshops as well as job shadow experiences and internship opportunities.
PBS SoCal produced documentaries, and worked with eight current and former foster youth to make video diaries. Over two weekends, youth were paired with professional filmmakers to create a 2-5 minute piece giving the general audience a glimpse into their world. Five pieces were shared on tofosterchange.org and recut versions were shared on air as PSAs.
The team produced 27 To Foster Change PSAs for on-air broadcast. PBS SoCal aired these PSAs year-round, but focused intense broadcast time around National Mentoring Month in January, Foster Youth Awareness Month in May, and National Adoption Month in November. The pieces have aired nearly 2,000 times since the beginning of 2018.
PBS SoCal launched tofosterchange.org to educate the general public with the goal of inspiring more civic participation and volunteerism to improve the life outcomes of foster youth.
The team collected responses from members regarding their perceptions of foster youth over time, finding data that supported the theory that public media coverage has the power to move the needle of awareness and understanding.
To Foster Change is based on the proven public media model that combines events, content, and direct service to move the needle of public opinion and ultimately incite change.