On Jan. 22, 2003, FRONTLINE, in collaboration with Columbia University’s School of Social Work and its Institute for Child and Family Policy, convened two panels of national experts at Columbia’s Alfred Lerner Hall to talk about the child welfare system and, more specifically, foster care.

FRONTLINE’s “Failure to Protect?: A National Dialogue” — co-produced with Fred Friendly Seminars, with primary editorial consultation provided by Columbia University’s Institute for Child and Family Policy — is an exploration of the complex and heartwrenching decisions made every day by workers and policymakers in the child welfare system. Moderator John Hockenberry, a correspondent for Dateline NBC, presents a realistic hypothetical case to a dozen panelists — child welfare experts and advocates — and encourages them to face those same tough decisions. (source: pbs:frontline:shows:fostercare: failure to protect)


The Scenario: A resident of Metropolis recently purchases a brownstone in a low-income neighborhood called Franklin Heights. Across the street, she sees a couple of children — one who looks to be about 8 years old and a baby. She notices that their clothes are dirty and they often lack adult supervision. She’s sufficiently concerned about the children’s well-being to pay a visit to their mother, Janice Smith.

What finally prompts the neighbor to call child protective services? And what will the caseworker assigned to the case and his supervisor decide about Janice and her children?

Read the entire transcript.(and lets discuss it here)

Video: Watch the entire program.

(Additional funding for “Failure to Protect?: A National Dialogue” is provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.)

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