RECOMMENDED VIEWING LIST
The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez
The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez is a true crime docuseries on Netflix. It covers the horrific and devastating case of Gabriel Fernandez, an eight-year-old boy who was murdered by his mother and her boyfriend, and the repeated failure of social workers and police officers to intervene. The six-part series is based on the in-depth reporting of LA Times journalist Garret Therolf. While this is currently the most popular documentary on Netflix, it is a heartbreaking story. One bright spot is that it has inspired people across the country to learn more about becoming a CASA or GAL volunteer and the difference they could personally make in a child’s
Available on Netflix.
Indian Child Welfare Act-Educational Resource Video
Hear from Native American adults on their experiences with foster care and adoption as children before the enactment of the Indian Child Welfare Act.
We Shall Remain
We Shall Remain, a video by The Stylehouse Collective, was created to address the effects of historical trauma in our tribal communities. Many times, these untended wounds are at the core of much of the self-inflictedpain experienced in Native America. Much like fire, this pain can either be devastatingly destructive or wisely harnessed to become fuel that helps us to rise up and move forward in life with joy, purpose and dignity.
Caught: Podcast from WNYC Studios
All kids make dumb mistakes. But depending on your zip code, race, or just bad luck, those mistakes can have a lasting impact. Mass incarceration starts young. In Caught: The Lives of Juvenile Justice, hear from kids about the moment they collided with law and order, and how it changed them forever.
College Behind Bars: A Film by Lynn Novick
Explore the transformative power of education through the eyes of a dozen incarcerated men and women trying to earn college degrees – and a chance at new beginnings – from one of the country’s most rigorous prison education programs.
Explores why some children are severely damaged by early adversity while others are able to thrive. By revisiting some of the abused and neglected children we profiled decades ago, we’re able to dramatically illustrate how early trauma shaped their lives as adults. BROKEN PLACES interweaves these longitudinal narratives with commentary from a few nationally renowned experts to help viewers better understand the devastating impact of childhood adversity as well as the inspiring characteristics of resilience.
A richly textured and visually stunning film, follows Brannaman from his abusive childhood to his phenomenally successful approach to horses. A real-life “horse-whisperer”, he eschews the violence of his upbringing and teaches people to communicate with their horses through leadership and sensitivity, not punishment.
A revealing documentary about Foster Care, family, and healing in the Western United States. This film was filmed over a five year period in Idaho and Oregon and follows families struggling to heal, administrators working for change, and the isolation of a western landscape responsible for both the manufacturing of and liberation from meth addiction.
The Hungry Heart
Explores the struggles and challenges faced by Dr. Holmes and the simple and profound connection he forges with each of his patients. The Hungry Heart shines a light on the healing power of conversation and the need for connection that many of these young addicts yearn for in their lives. Interviews with older addicts discussing their recovery process are juxtaposed against Fred’s younger patients.The road to recovery is paved with success stories and strewn with relapses, and downfalls. The Hungry Heart profiles the many faces and diverse populations of those struggling with addiction, and their continued search for a life of recovery.
Prescription for Hope: Overcoming Nevada’s Opioid Epidemic
The 29-minute documentary received a regional Emmy nomination for best documentary. It follows the lives of several Nevadans who have experienced the loss of a loved one due to opioids and the constant battle and power of hope to overcome an opioid addiction.
Trust: Second Acts in Young Lives
Trust: Second Acts in Young Lives is about creativity and the unexpected resources inside people you might discount because they are poor, young or of color. APTP is a neighborhood theater project dedicated to helping young people reimagine their experiences on stage. Marlin’s is one ofincredible struggle and pain, from enduring rape as young girl, to the difficult journey of immigrating to the U.S., to further abuse at the hands of her own brother, and finally to emancipation and overcoming substance addiction.
Adopted: For the life of me
Follows Dave, a fifty-two year old adoptee as he embarks on a journey to find his birthmother. His saga, with its unexpected and moving epiphany, illuminates the impact secrets can have over an entire lifetime.
A documentary about a transracial adoptee who finds her birth mother, and meets the rest of a family who didn't know she existed, including her birth father. A story about identity, the complexities of trans-racial adoption, and most importantly, closure.
On June 27, 1978, a 44-car Conrail freight train struck and killed two Crow Indian brothers near Little Falls, New York. The day before, the boys had disappeared. It was later revealed that the two boys — Bobby, 13, and Tyler, 11 — had run away from the white, Baptist family that had adopted them and their biological sisters seven years earlier, spiriting them from a troubled Montana reservation family to an idyllic Victorian castle across the country. Lost Sparrow is filmmaker Chris Billing’s investigation into the dark family secret that prompted his own adopted brothers’ fatal flight.
Unlocking the Heart of Adoption
This film bridges the gap between birth and adoptive families through diverse personal stories of adoptees, birthparents and adoptive parents in same race and transracial adoptions interwoven with the filmmaker's story as a birthmother revealing the enormous complexities in their lives with fascinating historical background.
Ask Who We Are
A documentary film focused on the challenges and extraordinary lives of youth in foster care. The film is a reflection on loss and the search for belonging and finding family. Although the film highlights the heartbreak that many foster care youth carry with them as they move through their lives, the documentary also reveals the tremendous strength and perseverance that grows out of their determination to survive and thrive.
A compelling documentary about a 3-year-old girl who tries to navigate through the harsh reality of severe poverty, her teenage mother's incarceration and looming foster care. Charming, obedient, and unable to fully comprehend the severity of her environment, Autumn is shielded from her own reality. Caught between the innocence of childhood and the growing necessity to be an adult, she represents hope to a family of women caught in the cyclical web of abuse, incarceration and poverty. Autumn's Eyes captures this impressionable time in this child's life, and ask the greater question: is there truly hope for a child growing up in these circumstances? Through the perspective of a little girl, Autumn's Eyes explores this perilous state of hope.
A film written and acted by foster care youth ripped from the stories of their lives. Five youth's worlds interweave as they confront loss, heartbreak, and come of age in this tale about transience and perseverance. Addie struggles to graduate from high school while her best friend Marie loses her grandmother. Megan copes with being taken from her abusive family and faces the harsh reality of living in a residential treatment center. All the while Eva works to be mother to her sister while their father falls deeper into a crack addiction. Finally,
there's Austin who's living on the street with his brother; barely able to feed himself. All of them must decide to survive or else fall victim to a broken system.
Jared Eamons, the son of a small-town Baptist pastor, must overcome the fallout after being outed as gay to his parents. His father and mother struggle to reconcile their love for their son with their beliefs. Fearing a loss of family, friends and community, Jared is pressured into attending a conversion therapy program. While there, Jared comes into conflict with its leader and begins his journey to finding his own voice and accepting his true self.
Kind Hearted Woman
In a special two-part series, acclaimed filmmaker David Sutherland (The Farmer’s Wife, Country Boys) creates an unforgettable portrait of Robin Charboneau, a 32-year-old divorced single mother and Oglala Sioux woman living on North Dakota’s Spirit Lake Reservation. Sutherland follows Robin over three years as she struggles to raise her two children, further her education, and heal herself from the wounds of sexual abuse she suffered as a child.
Off and Running
With white Jewish lesbians for parents and two adopted brothers — one mixed-race and one Korean—Brooklyn teen Avery grew up in a unique and loving household. But when her curiosity about her African-American roots grows, she decides to contact her birth mother. This choice propels Avery into her own complicated exploration of race, identity, and family that threatens to distance her from theparents she’s always known. She begins staying away from home, starts skipping school, and risks losing her shot at the college track career she had always dreamed of. But when Avery decides to pick up the pieces of her life and make sense of her identity, the results are inspiring.
Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son about his Father
On November 5, 2001, Dr. Andrew Bagby was murdered in a parking lot in western Pennsylvania; the prime suspect, his ex-girlfriend Dr. Shirley Turner, promptly fled the United States for St. John's, Canada, where she announced that she was pregnant with Andrew's child. She named the little boy Zachary.Filmmaker Kurt Kuenne, Andrew's oldest friend, began making a film for little Zachary as a way for him to get to know the father he'd never meet. But when Shirley Turner was released on bail in Canada and was given custody of Zachary while awaiting extradition to the U.S., the film's focus shifted to Zachary's grandparents, David & Kathleen Bagby, and their desperate efforts to win custody of the boy from the woman they knew had murdered their son.
Waiting for “Superman”
For a nation that proudly declared it would leave no child behind, America continues to do so at alarming rates. Despite increasedspending and politicians’ promises, our buckling public education system, once the best in the world, routinely forsakes the education of millions of children.
Homeless: The Motel Kids of Orange County
Explores the world of children who reside in discounted motels within walking distance of Disneyland, living in limbo as their families struggle to survive in one of the wealthiest regions of America. The parents of motel kids are often hard workers who don’t earn enough to own or rent homes. As a result, they continue to live week-to-week in motels, hoping against hope for an opportunity that might allow them to move up in the O.C.
Analyzes the hypersexualization of our environment and its noxious effects on young people. Psychologists, teachers and school nurses criticize the unhealthy culture surrounding our children, where marketing and advertising are targeting younger and younger audiences and bombarding them with sexual and sexist images. Sexy Inc. suggests various ways of countering hypersexualization and the eroticization of childhood and invites us to rally against this worrying phenomenon.
Very Young Girls
Very Young Girls is an exposé of human trafficking that follows 13- and 14-year-old American girls as they are seduced, abused, and sold on New York’s streets by pimps, and treated as adult criminals by police. The film follows the barely-adolescent girls in real time, using vérité and intimate interviews with them as they are first lured on to the streets and the dire events that follow.
At 15, Inocente refuses to let her dream of becoming an artist be caged by her life as an undocumented immigrant forced to live homeless for the last nine years.
For 19 nightmarish years, she lived on the streets, racking up 66 criminal convictions, until finally treatment for her trauma offered her a way out and up. Her story points to the consequences of untreated trauma to individuals and society at-large, including mental health problems, addiction, homelessness and incarceration.
A Mother’s Love (Cancer Hoax Documentary)
“Tells the inside story of a mother, Terri Milbrandt, who pretended her daughter had cancer and appealed to her close- knit community for help to pay the medical bills.”
Explores from a 10 year-old child’s point of view of the emotional journey of being taken from her home and placed in the foster care system.
This video is told from the perspective of a teenager and his family and shows hows how quickly the use of banned substances in social situations almost seamlessly spirals into an addiction to opiates.
Includes candid perspectives from high-school and college students, as well as nationally recognized experts, challenging the misperceived “safety” and effectiveness of using prescription stimulants without a doctor’s prescription. It serves as a catalyst to inform discussions about what parents and communities can do to support teens struggling to manage stress.
Struggle for Identity: Issues in Transracial Adoption
A thought-provoking 20-minute video presenting a group of adoptees who discuss their experiences growing up in transracial adoptive families. They delve into complex issues such as confronting stereotypes, fitting in with their culture of origin and learning to define themselves in terms of race and culture.
Ted Talk: How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime
Childhood trauma isn’t something you just get over as you grow up. Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris explains that the repeated stress of abuse, neglect and parents struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues has real, tangible effects on the development of the brain.
This film features numerous individuals in the foster care system; however, the inspiration for this film started with just one child.
Foster Care's Invisible Youth
Seven LGBTQ youth from the foster care system share their stories. Failed by their families, these young people go on to face rejection from foster families, invisibility within the system and incredible obstacles to healthy development.
Why We Stayed
A video about why women stay in abusive relationships. Beverly Gooden confronts the the question, “why doesn’t she just leave” by interviewing survivors and hearing from their own voice the impact abuse had on their lives.
Impact of Domestic Violence on Children
This film addresses the impact of domestic violence on children. Research shows those impacts canlast a lifetime. Children exposed to violence in the home often experience psychosomatic illnesses, depression, and suicidal tendencies. Later in life, these children are at greater risk for substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and criminal behavior than those raised in homes without violence.
Ted Talk: Foster Care to College: A Crisis WE Can Solve
Foster youth who exit the system at 18 have less than a 4% chance to ever complete college. There is a 25% chance they will be homeless. Higher education administration and faculty need to be part of the solution by rethinking local engagement in order to help this group of youth be prepared, apply, and complete college.”
Selling the Girl Next Door
This documentary takes viewers into the world of underage American girls caught up in the violent sex trade. Hundreds of thousands of girls under the age of 18 are ensnared into lives of prostitution annually, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Many are runaways or “throwaways” trapped in “the oldest profession” by pimps who sell them using modern sales and marketing techniques.
This documentary “examines the dramatic increase in the prescription of behavior-modifying drugs for children. Are these medications really necessary--and safe--for young children, or merely a harried nation's quick fix for annoying, yet age-appropriate, behavior?”
A two-part documentary exploring the separate but parallel experiences of two young boys, James Safechuck, at age 10, and Wade Robson, at age 7, both of whom were befriended by Michael Jackson. This the film crafts a portrait of sustained abuse, exploring the complicated feelings that led both men to confront their experiences after both had son’s of their own.