In the center of Boston, just a few blocks west of I-93, where fabled neighborhoods converge, and contrasted only by the state of the art Boston Medical Center across the street, sits a modestly tall, fatigued, brick building. In it, Richard DeRosa runs programs for Bostonians who’ve fallen on hard times – or some who’ve never fallen outof hard times— as a Director at the Boston Public Health Commission. A committed mental and public health professional and native Bostonian who has dedicated his life to helping those who’ve been discarded by society, he’s now developing a new, potentially groundbreaking program that is forcing him to face his own haunted past and the experiences that made him.
FROM FOSTER CARE TO FOSTER OUT tells the story of Rich, a foster kid who defies all odds and grows up to become a champion for family unification, and the fathers he is helping reunite with their children through an innovative initiative, the Healthy Start in Housing Program. The documentary follows Rich as he works through city channels to get his new program off the ground, which will provide subsidized housing and services for homeless dads with children and those who want to reunite with their children currently in the foster care system.
Set in a city experiencing rapid growth and an affordable housing crisis, it illustrates the different struggles of fathers in need of a place to live, and the impact a stable home can have on children and families. These men, of diverse and compelling backgrounds, are portrayed objectively and compassionately, dignifying their humanity and the hope they have for their children. The narratives of fathers in the program are paralleled by the unique story of Roger, a juvenile prosecutor who served as a foster parent for over forty children in his lifetime, one of whom was Rich.
As he pursues this new project, Rich is struck by the full circle emanating in his personal life. The obvious connection to his childhood in this new initiative serves as a shocker, and he recalls the traumatic events that transpired as he moved from place to place as a foster youth, until he was united with Roger. It’s those traumas he hopes he can help the children he serves avoid, and the fathers like Roger he hopes to promote.
While planning this project in the fall of 2018, Rich’s world was rocked after being diagnosed with colon cancer and later probable cancer on his lung. In December of the same year during a biopsy procedure he experienced complications which brought him close to death, resulting in him having to be put in a coma for 2 days. These events have made it impossible for him to avoid dealing with his traumatic past and current underlying health issues and is forcing him to face issues related to his own mortality.
The film also witnesses Rich reflect on the influence of the child welfare system, its evolution and effectiveness as he examines his own case file notes written by his social workers. Through these historical and contemporary explorations, the film depicts how issues of race, class, and gender can play out in the implementation of social policy and calls into question the implications for social workers and the child welfare system at large.
FROM FOSTER CARE TO FOSTER OUT tells the story of Rich, a foster kid who defies all odds and grows up to become a champion for family unification, and the fathers he is helping reunite with their children through an innovative initiative, the Healthy Start in Housing Program.