"Broken" is a new landmark documentary film currently in production with a companion book. Coupled with a national community and educational outreach campaign, "Broken" will help create a national dialogue on the failed child protection, foster care, and family court systems in Massachusetts and nationally.
Recent high-profile stories in the Washington Post, CBS Sunday Morning, and Mother Jones have chronicled problems with the practice of separating children in need from their families -- but these stories just scratched the surface and fail to reveal the systematic issues involved, particularly that six in seven children are removed from their homes not for abuse, but for neglect, the blanket term that all too often is conflated with issues stemming directly from poverty such as the lack of food, shelter, clothing or childcare.
By doing so, the current system is quite simply punishing poverty by the worst possible means -- the removal of children.
“Broken” is a non-profit, feature-length documentary for festival, theatrical, public TV and home/educational release (already listed in the Public Television Pipeline) that focuses on the failing child protection system in Massachusetts. Additionally, Massachusetts, despite its resources and reputation, has inexplicably ranked at the bottom of all states for decades when it comes to the care and protection of children in need, a situation compounded by:
In addition, it's a situation that disproportionately impacts families of color, families with mental health issues and other disabilities, as well as those experiencing other forms of marginalization. The film holds the promise of exposing for the first time the various systematic problems and factors that create these circumstances, as well as to show how real changes can be made to save lives.
The film will also document the Foster Care to Prison Pipeline, which results in one-in-four foster kids becoming involved with the criminal justice system within two years of leaving foster care at the same time that close to one-fifth of the prison population in the U.S. is comprised of former foster children.
The project represents an unprecedented collaboration of two investigative journalists and a team of leading experts in their fields and noted advocates including those with lived experience as people of color, all of whom have provided crucial insights into this issue.
Finally, we are working with a legal team including a former senior judge of the Massachusetts Juvenile Court, and we brought a legal action and received an unprecedented ruling allowing us access as media to a juvenile care and protection hearing, which in Massachusetts are unconditionally secret and closed to the public and press. This promises to be an important step forward in the effort to lift the veil surrounding the child protection process, which has served to protect the state's child welfare agency from accountability.
The film is non-profit through its 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsorship by Filmmakers Collaborative. You can see more about the documentary including the new film trailer at Brokenthefilm.org
The film holds the promise of exposing for the first time the various systematic problems and factors that create these circumstances, as well as to show how real changes can be made to save lives.