Failure to Protect
Failed by a system that unfairly tears apart low income, marginalized families, four parents - Anna, Trish, Ernst and Rosa - fight to reunify with their children. But what does it take to get your children back after they’ve been taken by the Child Protective Services? Failure to Protect is an in-depth look at the child welfare system through the forgotten lens of parents, further contextualized by experts in the field to unpack a pressing socioeconomic issue that affects hundreds of thousands of families everyday
TM: This film is a prime example of systemic racism and the stereotypes bestowed upon lower income families. When children are taken from parents, it’s assumed there is a horrible reason why they were put into the system, and that the parents must be horrible people. This documentary shows how much more in depth these issues go.
Similar to the criminal system, child welfare is all about time - waiting for another court date, paying off attorney’s fees, missing paperwork, etc. In fact, during the film, an expert in the field states, “You have more rights as a criminal than you do as a parent.”
In addition, with childrens’ lives and futures at stake, social workers will take children from the home or keep them from their family for longer periods of time to play it safe. While the system was put in place to help children, this documentary shines a light on how paperwork and bureaucracy can ruin families for years and even decades.If you think you understand how child welfare and foster care work, allow this documentary to open your eyes.
Tuesday’s Rating: 3.5 shots
KM: This year’s festival was filled with stories about the child welfare system. From Bunny King to Scarborough and to this documentary, puts a magnifying glass on the US child welfare system. Thus far we looked at New Zealand and Canada. The common thread is that government entities are beasts everywhere. And when it comes to protecting children, the initial reaction is to remove them from the parents if something goes wrong.
The problem is, each situation inevitably is held to the same measuring stick. And in the case of the US, the incentive is to remove the children from their parents because that is how the agency gets more money. It’s sickeningly broken. The problem is also that it also harms those children who really need help as well as families. By making every situation escalate to removal, more children enter the welfare system and they get less care and attention because foster homes are overwhelmed.
Failure to Protect is one of those must see documentaries that opens your eyes to a system that is shrouded in bureaucracy and red lines.
Kaely’s rating: 4 shots