This legal drama, starring Matthew Modine (Stranger Things), Shane Paul McGhie (After We Collided) and Academy, Oscar and Golden Globe winner Louis Gossett Jr., activates reform against corruption in foster care.
Foster Boy’s deeply emotive plot follows the trial of a for-profit Foster care agency, who puts a known sex offender into the same foster home as a lawyer’s young client, Jamal, with catastrophic results. Each man heals the other in the pursuit of justice, as they expose the horrifying corrupt agency.
A firm festival favourite, Foster Boy has won 17 major awards at the International Black Film Festival, Sedona Film Festival, Pan African Film Festival, Woodstock Film Festival, and the Dallas Film Festival. It has received honors including Best Picture, Best Full Length Picture, and Best of the Fest.
The film is based on writer Jay Paul Deratany’s experiences as a trial lawyer fighting for child welfare in Chicago.
Ex Prod O’Neal says, “A lot of what you see in that film, actually happened in the court room and Shane shows us the trauma and crushing emotional baggage foster kids carry for the rest of their lives.”
Foster Boy is produced by Peter Samuelson; founder of First Star, a charity that gives academic support to young adults in the care system aiming at higher education or their first job. Lead Shane Paul McGhie maintains that getting to know kids from First Star, who bravely shared their experiences of Foster Care, was the driving force behind his moving portrayal of Jamal. He says, “They anonymously wrote me some letters, which I stuck up on my trailer mirror to remind me every day. If I was approaching a challenging scene I would look up at the letters and get that knowing that this was bigger than me and that I was doing it for them.”
The sheer volume of children in care who lack equal opportunity is not just an American problem. During Covid-19, numbers of children and Young People going into care Increased by 44% (Bernados, 2020). Almost half these children in care have a diagnosable mental health disorder as a result of childhood trauma (First Star). Foster Boy invites the viewer to walk in the shoes of Jamal to understand the urgency for change.
Statistics about Foster Care and Education (Source: First Star)
- Looked-after Young People achieve below average outcomes at GCSE with only 17.5% passing English and Maths compared to 59.4% of their non-looked after peers.
- Only 19% of care experienced young people achieve 5 + GCSE pass grades compared to 59% of peers.
- The 2019 Centre for Social Justice report 12by24 found that 6% of care experienced young people in the UK enter university (age 19-21) compared to 34% of peers.
- Care leavers make up 0.1 per cent of all undergraduates.
- You are more likely to bump into an undergraduate from Cyprus than a student who grew up in a care (CSJ, 2019).
- 40% of jobs requiring a degree level education (propel.org.uk) yet there are few groups less likely to access higher education than young people growing up in care.
First Star Progress
- Over 50% passed both English and maths GCSEs in first cohort.
- 48% passed 5+ GCSEs in first cohort (St Mary’s University Twickenham, London) compared to 53.2% of London based peers.
- 85% retention rates – ie even during Covid they are still attending (virtually) our programme.
- 60.8% of First star scholars passed English GCSE compared to 64.8% of all pupils nationally.
- 65.4% of first star scholars passed maths GCSE compared to 65.3% of peers (all pupils nationally).