The CarePortal platform exists to create connections of many kinds. Most of these connections will inevitably involve families and children who are in extremely delicate and sensitive circumstances, making the way church responders use media and share the stories of their experience and relationship to the families extremely important. We believe sharing stories is impactful and essential for both celebrating God’s work and inviting others to join. We believe every child and adult, created in God’s image, should be treated with kindness and respect. While we will not gloss over the tough, real struggles and pain, we should always choose to tell stories in a way that fosters dignity and highlights hope, avoiding the temptation of making generalizations.
This article explains some standard guidelines and best practices that will help churches protect the dignity and safety of the families and kids they serve while also stewarding these powerful stories well. The official procedure is included for when stories are shared publicly.
CarePortal Churches & Local Network Leaders
Included in This Article
- Standard Guidelines
- Best Practices for Sharing Stories
- Using Photos & Video Effectively
- Learn More About Sharing Stories & Connecting With Intention
Our media policy for all children and families is reflective of the most protective laws of foster children. Laws regarding sharing foster children’s photos and stories vary state-to-state. Regardless of legislation, as a team, we want to take responsibility for protecting all children and families whose needs have been entrusted to us through our CarePortal relationships. There are many reasons why keeping the utmost confidentiality for children in foster care matters, including their physical protection from anyone the state has deemed a danger to them. Therefore, as a platform, we take extra precautions when sharing photos or names of any families served through CarePortal, regardless of the state law.
Best Practices for Sharing Stories
There are some general rules for the road that will set you and your teams up to make respectful connections with families that will leave them feeling glad they invited your church into their home.
- Leave the cameras at home or in the car. Your primary goal is to be fully present and connect with the family.
- Listen intently and ask respectful questions that will help you learn their story
- If speaking about your experience and telling their story to others later on, do not use any identifying information but speak as if they are in the room listening to what you're saying
- Be very careful in asking the family to participate in on-camera or written interviews until a trust-based relationship has been established over multiple interactions. Asking permission even for a photo of some kind during your first interaction with the family will likely lead to them feeling as if they can't say no without disrespecting your team, and you may unknowingly be making it very difficult for yourselves to form a genuine relationship.
Using Photos & Video Effectively
The video below outlines some of the important considerations every Church should consider in regard to taking photos of the families they serve through CarePortal. It's important to consider how taking and posting photos of a care connection might work against the trust and relational value that responders are working to create.
Sample Video Outline
The following outline is an example of best practices for a church team to share a story of responding to a CarePortal request through video.
This particular church hopes to let this opportunity be used as an element of recruiting more members of their church to join a response team and serve in the community. Sharing stories through video is a strength of this particular church but they also want to honor the family they serve, so they come up with this production plan that aims to accomplish both of these goals effectively.
1. Introduction Footage
The video begins by interviewing the person who responded to the request email. This section of the video answers questions like:
- What caused you to choose this request?
- What are your reactions to the information received about the family before meeting them?
- What are the thoughts and feelings your team has in anticipation of helping the family?
2. Preparation Footage
Video footage is taken of the team as they prepare the items. This could include shots of the team loading the items into a truck, talking with community partners, making phone calls, etc. Additional footage could be collected from the passenger seat of the car as the team leader is driving to the family. Interviews during this section could answer questions like:
- How did you prepare? (Deciding who would join you, what each person's focus would be, etc.)
- What do you hope to see happen? What are your expectations for how this may stretch you, your team, your church?
- What are your plans to connect and remain engaged with the family?
3. Family Interaction Substitute
The video team represents this part of the story with a black screen and some simple text:
"To protect and honor the family, no video footage was
collected from the team's interactions with them."
4. Debrief/Reaction Footage
To conclude the video and invite other people at the church to get involved, final interviews are collected after the team leaves the family's home. They respond to questions like:
- What did you notice about the community, the agency, or other supports in place?
- In what ways were you able to connect with the family?
- What did this interaction show you about yourself?
- How is God moving in your heart regarding staying connected to the family and community?
Learn More About Sharing Stories & Connecting With Intention