Selecting a photo

Prospective parents and recruiters report that one of the most effective ways of grabbing attention is with a great photo and video of a child. Whenever possible, include a current, compelling image that shows the child or sibling group in the best possible light. Because children change so often, it’s important to update the photos regularly. Videos can do even more to show who a child or teen really is and to engage prospective parents.

But a bad or old image can cause prospective parents to simply look past a child’s listing. In other cases, photos can provide identifying information or invite the wrong kind of attention for a child.

In cases where the picture can’t be used, the first priority is to get one that can. When you don’t have a useable picture or the youth doesn’t want to have their picture posted, consider using some of their artwork instead. Some young people have even chosen to draw a self-portrait to replace their profile photo.

Qualities of a good profile photo

  • Features the child prominently and positively; the child looks good
  • Siblings are featured together
  • Is of a high enough resolution and quality to look good online or in print (not pixelated)
  • Has a correct aspect ratio, meaning it is not stretched in width or length
  • Is current and accurately represents the child’s current age
  • Protects the child’s privacy by not revealing their name, school or home name, team name, or a well-known building or landmark or other location marker

Photos that should not be used in children’s public profile

  • Photos showing clothing or backgrounds with pictures of weapons or words or pictures that suggest violence or crime
  • Photos with sexual overtones, including photos with suggestive posture, photos of youth with no shirts or significant cleavage, or photos of young people in clothing that has sexually suggestive statements or pictures
  • Photos of children who have a high profile because their story has received significant news coverage that included last names or other identifying information. If there is a serious safety risk or risk of exposure for a child with a high profile, you may want to consider whether public recruitment is the right option for them
  • Photos of young people who do not want their picture included
  • Photos that include other children unless they are siblings the agency is seeking to place together