Lights, camera, action: The images of foster care in the movies

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4 Scopus citations


Movies often reflect public perceptions. The portrayal of foster care in movies provides insight regarding beliefs and attitudes children, parents, and others bring with them as they interact with the foster care system. The study focus was to identify images of foster care portrayed in 37 nondocumentary movies produced in the United States and Canada between 1921 and 2012. Using Framing Theory, an iterative review process was used to derive three dominant images presented to audiences: child entrance into foster care, a broken foster care system, and life in foster care. Movie images generally misrepresented the realities of foster care in the United States, highlighting the importance of those involved in child custody and providing a more realistic image of foster care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-72
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Child Custody
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2017


  • Foster care
  • framing theory
  • images
  • movies
  • public administration


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