CBC Kids moves into Aunty B’s House

The Canadian pubcaster’s new "sitcom for preschoolers" stands out in the market by showing how diverse families can be, says development and production exec Swin Chang.
May 16, 2023

CBC Kids is looking to reach an underserved demo of kids and families in the foster care system with its upcoming live-action series, Aunty B’s House.

The 20 x seven-minuter from Toronto’s Headspinner Productions revolves around foster mom Aunty B and her three foster kids. Billed as a “sitcom for preschoolers,” it blends comedy with heartfelt moments, while exploring what it’s like to live in foster care. To that end, Aunty B’s House explores issues such as parental visits, social worker drop-ins and unique worries like whether the tooth fairy will be able to find foster kids in their new homes.

The show wrapped shooting last week and is set for a fall delivery. Along with Lopii’s Bestest Day Ever, it’s part of CBC Kids’ recent push to offer more diverse live-action programming for preschoolers.

Reviewing the show concept, the pubcaster identified an opportunity to reach a demo of kids who rarely see themselves on screen—and when they do, the portrayals are often negative, says Swin Chang, executive in charge of development and production.

“Family comes in all forms and all types, and we want to reflect that,” says Chang. “There also aren’t a lot of live-action shows for preschoolers, so that helps this one stand out.”

Aunty B’s House is inspired by the life of its creator, Canadian actor Khalilah Brooks, who also plays the titular main character. Brooks was in foster care from ages two to 21, and now she’s a foster mom. She’s hopeful her series will start conversations around different types of child care. “I had to create something to give children like myself a voice, the kids who fall through the cracks.”

Going the live-action route with the project was an important strategic decision, not only because it’s cheaper and faster, but because kids want to see themselves on screen, says Chang.

Headspinner is managing global sales for the show, and also working on producing a soundtrack that includes several original songs featured in the season-one episodes. President Michelle Melanson is focusing on markets with large and established foster care systems, such as the US, the UK and Australia, where the stories are more likely to resonate. In the US, there are more than 400,000 kids in foster care at any given time, according to Maryland-based nonprofit Comfort Cases.

However, Melanson is quick to note that Aunty B’s House has universal themes related to family and growing up at its core, and this should work in a wide variety of international territories.

Melanson has a personal connection to foster families and adoption. Her husband, fellow Headspinner exec Ken Cuperus, was adopted. And together, they adopted their daughter from China. But whether kids have any experience with these systems or not, she says Aunty B’s House will appeal broadly with its heart and humor.

“We don’t want to shelter preschoolers from the realities around being a foster child,” says Melanson. “And I know that buyers are most interested when you have a point of view and something to say.”

Kara Harun (Momolu and Friends) is showrunning, and Melanson and Cuperus are executive producers. The CMF and Shaw Rocket Fund contributed financing to the project.

You can read more about Aunty B’s House in Kidscreen‘s February/March 2023 magazine issue.

About The Author
News editor for Kidscreen. Ryan covers tech, talent and general kids entertainment news, with a passion for kids rap content and video games. Have a story that's of interest to Kidscreen readers? Contact Ryan at rtuchow@brunico.com



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