Failure to Protect
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A National Symposium on Child WelfareA National Symposium on Child Welfare

Here is the video from "Failure to Protect?: A National Dialogue," a FRONTLINE co-production with Fred Friendly Seminars. This televised discussion (which immediately followed Part II of FRONTLINE's series "Failure to Protect") features child welfare experts as they gradually -- and sometimes uncertainly -- work their way through the various steps of the child welfare decision-making process. Also on this page are the transcripts from two panels of experts who convened at Columbia University to talk about the many issues facing the system today.

» Video of the Broadcast:
"Failure to Protect?: A National Dialogue"

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.

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?

Video: Watch the entire program.

Read the entire transcript.

Participants' bios

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

» National Symposium on Child Welfare

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. Following are transcripts from the two sessions.

CPS REFORM: What Does it Take to Change Frontline Practice?
Across the nation, efforts are underway to reform child protective services so that they better meet the dual goals of protecting children and preserving families. These reform efforts vary, but a common goal is to change "frontline" practice -- of caseworkers and supervisors "on the ground" -- to more effectively engage families. In this panel, experts discuss the various reforms and evaluate what's working and what isn't.

· Kathryn Conroy, assistant dean, Columbia University School of Social Work

· Zeinab Chahine, deputy commissioner, New York City Administration for Children's Services
· John Mattingly, senior program associate, Annie E. Casey Foundation
· Gail Nayowith, executive director, Citizens' Committee for Children of New York
· Paul Vincent, director, Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group

· Brenda McGowan, professor, Columbia University School of Social Work

ASFA FIVE YEARS AFTER: What Have the Effects Been?
The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 represented a major change in child welfare policy, yet five years after its passage, its full effect on the system and the families involved in it is uncertain. In this panel, experts explain why it's difficult to separate ASFA's effects from reforms that were already taking place before it was enacted. Among other things, they discuss the funding outlook and the difficult political decisions that have yet to be made.

· Jane Spinak, Edward Ross Aranow Clinical Professor, Columbia University Law School

· William Bell, commissioner, New York City Administration for Children's Services
· Mark E. Courtney, director, Chapin Hall Center for Children
· Michael Wald, senior adviser on policy, evaluation, and children and youth at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

· Jane Waldfogel, associate professor, Columbia University School of Social Work

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