Failure to Protect
homelogan marrcaseworker fileschild policydiscussion

The Caseworker Files

» San Antonio Express-News Kevin McDonough

"['The Caseworker Files'] takes viewers inside Maine's Department of Human Services, where a small group of overburdened caseworkers face heart-breaking domestic tragedies and make difficult choices every day. This is a powerful, if difficult, film."

» The Hartford Courant Roger Catlin

"There's no clear conclusion in 'The Caseworker Files.' The producers don't lead you down a path of obvious fault the way other newsmagazines might. But at its end, it seems that the caseworkers are dedicated, if undertrained. And the workers who seem most determined to seek state-mandated separation from families are those who have least contact with the families involved."

» Tampa Tribune Walt Belcher

"Viewers will see that [Shaleigh] Anthony and other welfare workers are caught between parents, who may be abusing their children, and a flawed system that isn't working."

» Los Angeles Times Josh Friedman

"The documentary ... is a follow-up to last week's 'Failure to Protect: The Taking of Logan Marr,' ... but it stands alone as a provocative look at an imperfect system. ...

"'The Caseworker Files' puts a human face on a hard question: What is the right balance between saving a child and ripping apart a family?"

The Taking of Logan Marr

» Philadelphia Inquirer Jonathan Storm

"Rather than simply presenting the issue, which it does elegantly and affectingly, Frontline also seeks to advance thinking on it and, potentially, improve the lives of people on both sides.

"That would be prize-winning work anywhere, but especially in the usually tawdry world of TV."

» Boston Globe Suzanne C. Ryan

"Tonight's film by itself is an indictment of the state's child-welfare system. It's particularly gut-wrenching because it includes video footage of one of Logan's state-supervised visits with her birth mother, in which the girl stops opening Christmas gifts to complain that her foster mother has been hurting her. ...

"PBS's 'Failure to Protect' series is a moving and compelling look at the overlapping problems of the child-welfare system. The solution -- finding a balance between saving children and destroying families -- is agonizingly elusive."

» New York Times Virginia Heffernan

"This evening's program is both an activist documentary and a harrowing murder mystery. In addition to foreboding home videos of Logan, whose vivacity on camera is almost otherworldly, the program includes detailed interviews with both Sally Schofield and Christy Marr, Logan's birth mother. These are women with heavy hearts, each perplexed in her own way about how motherhood could come to this. ...

"In an effort to avoid accusations of prurient interest and sensationalism, PBS treats Logan's death as symptomatic of larger failings by child-welfare agencies."

» Boston Herald Monica Collins

"This videotape, the interviews and the rest of the extraordinary footage weave together into powerful documentaries. 'Failure To Protect' is remarkable in that it makes clear how difficult it is to determine the best interests of the child. ...

"WGBH's 'Frontline: Failure To Protect' series is hard to watch, but important. To ensure the health and welfare of children is society's greatest challenge."

» Toronto Star Vinay Menon

"'Failure To Protect' asks many hard questions but, in the end, there are no real answers.

"So what you're left with is a montage of haunting, hard-to-reconcile images of a beautiful, wide-eyed girl who grows increasingly tortured by feelings of abandonment, mistrust, and a gnawing desire 'to go home and live with mommy.' ...

"The most unsettling aspect of the documentary is the interview with Schofield. Remember, this was filmed before her trial, before she was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

"When she speaks of Logan, she often smiles fondly, as if nothing had happened."

» Entertainment Weekly Monica Mehta

"Frontline investigates the case and lays bare a grossly inept child-welfare system through this heartbreaking cautionary tale."

» The Hartford Courant Roger Catlin

"The most harrowing aspect of tonight's 'Frontline' is the nagging feeling that it could happen anywhere. ...

"Rather than dwell on the brutal end, as other newsmagazines might, the methodical report by Rachel Dretzin and Barak Goodman focuses on what led Logan to be in foster care and then follows the tale. ...

"The story is told slowly, with extensive interviews with Christy and the caseworker, who has been charged with manslaughter in Logan's death. ..."

» Seattle Times Kay McFadden

"Now in its 20th season on PBS, 'Frontline' is the gold standard for news that spans the depth of research and the breadth of relevancy. ...

"'Frontline' hasn't lost any ambition after two decades, as evidenced by 'Failure to Protect.' ...

"The result is an intimate portrait of a fractured family and a little girl grown increasingly angry and unmanageable after her placement in a third foster home. It also is a deep look inside the bewildering, rule-riddled universe of one state's child protective system.

"Where 'Frontline' doesn't succeed, however, is in extrapolating from this sad tale a few trenchant observations about the system itself. That something seems irrevocably broken is self-evident in the mounting accounts of child welfare cases gone wrong. ... But just what?

"The narrative takes tentative whacks at the question, observing that the philosophical pendulum has swung from keeping families together to guarding children's rights. It also notes, albeit too briefly for my taste, the staggering growth in caseloads and in unplaced children, and the high burnout rate for caseworkers.

"Left unexplored, however, are the causes under these effects. ..."

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