A foster care documentary, Breaking the Cycle, explores exactly how intertwined the foster care system is with homelessness and human trafficking.
Filmmaker Arzo Yusuf captured multiple perspectives from people with close connections to the pipeline of living in foster care to becoming homeless or being sexually exploited, including a former foster youth and professionals who work with young people in foster care.
Personal accounts from former foster youth speak to the circumstances that led to their getting taken into foster care, as well as what it was like to reside in the care of strangers.
As Yusuf explains, when a predator is scoping out potential foster youth to turn on to trafficking, they manipulate these young people by mimicking the love and dependability that the foster youth feel they’ve lost in the system. Because most foster youth are not prepared to reject the false projections of security and personal investment that an exploiter may throw their way, the foster care system becomes a playground for opportunists to impose their will on impressionable youth.
Yusuf first got involved with the foster system when she started working for Angel’s Nest, an organization that assists young adults who have aged out of the foster system. It was there that she learned how the foster care system often serves as a pipeline into homelessness and commercial sexual exploitation.