With one in eight American children suffering a confirmed case of neglect or abuse by age 18, there are currently more than 400,000 children in foster care in the U.S., a number that continues to grow each year.

Drawing on unprecedented access, FOSTER explores the often-misunderstood world of foster care through compelling stories from the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, the largest county child welfare agency in the country. The documentary mixes firsthand accounts of people navigating the system with insights from social workers, advocates and others, offering a realistic but hopeful perspective on a community that needs society’s support.

Producer Deborah Oppenheimer and writer-director Mark Jonathan Harris (Oscar-winning Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport) reunite to upend some of the most enduring myths about foster care, going beyond the stereotypes.

FOSTER visits courtrooms, foster homes, juvenile centers, hospitals and the neighborhoods of Los Angeles to tell moving stories of the foster care system in the United States. One literally begins in the cradle, focusing on an infant born to a mother who tests positive for cocaine at the child’s birth.

Elsewhere, the documentary features the accounts of: a teenager who entered the system through tragic circumstances and is on probation for a typical adolescent act that might not have been prosecuted in the case of someone from an intact home; a young woman transitioning to college and independence, who has lived in more homes than she can remember; a former foster child who has overcome her painful past to become a powerful advocate for children; and a foster mother who has provided support to more than 100 children.

In conjunction with the debut of FOSTER, Participant Media is launching a social impact campaign, including a ten-state screening tour of the film, that is intended to bring individuals, organizations, corporations and government agencies together to change perceptions of foster youth from “those children” to “OUR children,” and to accelerate solutions aimed at helping children and families to thrive.

HBO Documentary Films, Participant Media and Emerson Collective present FOSTER, a Sabine Films Production; a film by Deborah Oppenheimer and Mark Jonathan Harris; written and directed by Mark Jonathan Harris; produced by Deborah Oppenheimer, p.g.a.; producers, Lisa Remington, Samantha Polan; executive producers, Jeff Skoll, Diane Weyermann; editor, Kate Amend, ACE; director of photography, Nick Higgins; music by, Gary Lionelli; sound designer, Gary Rydstrom; music supervisor, Tracy McKnight; original song “Tiny Victories” performed by Christina Perri.