This is a film for serious-minded viewers.
“Failure to Protect” is the title, and it’s also a law that means a parent can be charged for lack of action that leads to a child’s harm.
‘Failure to Protect’ (IMDb)
The idea is to protect children from abuse or neglect. But it can be a slippery slope for accused parents, who can end up in legal battles involving their own families, social workers and the court system.
Three different families are featured in this film that looks at the child-welfare system.
One of the grownups is Ann, who adopted her grandson after her daughter was killed. After her grandson ran away, Anna and her partner were accused of abuse.
Now, even though a court has deemed the accusations to be false, Anna still faces legal challenges.
Another adult involved in the system is Rosa, whose four children are in foster care after her ex-partner abused two of the children – and Rosa did not know what was happening. Now, even though Rosa’s ex is no longer around, she still does not have custody of her children.
The third family includes Ernst, a contractor, and his wife, whose children have been removed from their home after one of them reported abuse.
More than 600,000 children spend some time in foster care every year in the United States.
Director Jeremy Pion-Berlin (“Murder in the Heartland”) follows the families through a court system that often has parents feeling as though they are guilty until proven innocent.
Other interviews include social workers, civil rights attorneys and parent advocates who address the trauma and continuing legal entanglements parents and children often face.
This is a revealing film that shows an often-broken system, and the way families are irreparably damaged when they become a part of it. It may not be an easy watch, but it is an important and enlightening one.
3 ½ stars
Running time: One hour and 37 minutes.
Steaming on prime video.
Watch the trailer here.