FAILURE TO PROTECT
FAILURE TO PROTECT follows five parents – Anna, Trish, Rheta, Ernst, and Rosa – as they fight desperately to reunify with their children taken by Child Protective Services (CPS). It’s an unwavering and nuanced look at the child welfare system where criminals have more rights than parents.
The families’ stories showcase the variety of circumstance that can lead to a child’s removal from the home, as well as the trials and tribulations that inevitably follow. The cases are as complex as they are tragic. They include histories of mental illness, as well as allegations of abuse, neglect, and trauma. Parents are pitted against their own children and each other. Along the way, the parents fight to clear their names, and prove their fitness as guardians.
Through these highly personal stories, we explore many tough questions, such as do parents whose personal struggles compromised their children’s safety deserve a second chance? Is the CPS system biased against minorities, LGBTQIA+ couples, and the economically disadvantaged? To avoid leaving a child in an abusive or dangerous environment, do social workers remove children first and ask questions later? The film offers an unprecedented, in-depth window into the grim realities of the child welfare system through the often ignored perspective of parents.
The families are eclectic. All shapes, sizes, races, ages, and socioeconomic backgrounds face the challenges of reuniting parents and children. Allegations range from neglect to sexual abuse. Each case is unique, and the system does not exist to react to those nuances.
The film features interviews with parents recounting the circumstances/allegations that caused their children’s removal and social workers explaining how the system functions. Civil rights lawyers and judges speak to the lessened burden of proof concerning children. The film illuminates the parent’s rights, most of whom have no idea they exist. Bodycam footage of children’s removal and news clips of the death of kids in foster care tear your heart out.
The amount of unresolved and generational trauma involved in these cases will not surprise you, but the manufacturing of “facts” by social workers will. When you hear “The Right To Lie” case, your jaw will drop to the floor. Or expletives come bursting forth. *raises hand* Netflix‘s TAKE CARE OF MAYA is a terrific companion film to FAILURE TO PROTECT. Each film shines a light on the faults in the family services system. While the film features a variety of families, the racial biases are pervasive. This eye-opening doc pulls no punches. It puts everyone in the hot seat.
OPENING ON DIGITAL PLATFORMS ON OCTOBER 17
FAILURE TO PROTECT was directed, produced, and edited by Jeremy Pion-Berlin. It was executive-produced by Jordan Savage, Devon Collins, Lisa Pion-Berlin, Jeff Porter, and Sgt. Major Keith L. Craig. It has a running time of 98 minutes and will not be rated by the MPAA. The film has screened at numerous prestigious film festivals including Phoenix Film Festival, Julien Dubuque International Film Festival, Atlanta Docufest, and Doc Boston, and has won numerous awards including“Best of Fest“ at Frozen River Film Festival, “Best Documentary” and “Best Director” at Oceanside International Film Festival, “Audience Choice Award” at Atlanta Docufest, “Best Director Documentary” and “Audience Choice Award” at First Glance Film Festival Los Angeles, “Best US Documentary Film” at Doc. Boston, among other awards. FAILURE TO PROTECT will be released on digital platforms by Porter+Craig Film & Media on October 17.
SOCIAL MEDIA HANDLES