Columbia Creates Video to Help Families Keep 'Focus on Children'

Photo: Phil Dembinski '08Photo: Phil Dembinski '08
In collaboration with the Circuit Court of Cook County’s Domestic Relations Division, Cinema and Television Arts students and faculty fuse documentary and public service.

Columbia College Chicago and the Circuit Court of Cook County’s Domestic Relations Division collaborated to create “Focus on Children,” an orientation modular video program used by Cook County trainers and mediators for divorcing parents. The educational program offers parents who are separating a way to address the effects of conflict on children during the separation process and beyond. 

Cook County officials recognized that the previous video, made more than 30 years ago, didn’t represent present-day families. The county reached out to Columbia, where Cinema and Television Arts students, alumni and The Doc Unit created the new training video.

“Columbia has a long, proud history of creating public service media projects. We provide students an experience in the real world and encourage those who wish to make personal films that make a difference.” —Jeff Spitz, Cinema and Television Arts Associate Professor

“We are grateful that Columbia faculty and students helped create the foundation of our project by capturing wonderful filmed interviews with children and adults who had experienced these types of court cases,” says Honorable Cook County Circuit Court Judge Grace G. Dickler. “I’m thankful to Columbia for providing such a service to the Circuit Court and to the families of Cook County.”

“Columbia has a long, proud history of creating public service media projects,” says Cinema and Television Arts Associate Professor Jeff Spitz, who leads Columbia’s The Doc Unit and helped complete the film.

“We provide students an experience in the real world and encourage those who wish to make personal films that make a difference,” says Spitz. “‘Focus on Children’ is a chance for our students to participate in a production designed specifically for parents and children going through the legal and emotional rigors of divorce.”

"As a parent who has gone through a divorce, the efforts of this project are deeply meaningful and personal to me,” says Cinema and Television Arts student and veteran Jessica Siletzky, who worked on the project. “I believe that sharing our stories is an act of service to help those in need of guidance through experiences like divorce.”

 

Watch the video here: