• Still from Tough Love

    Still from Tough Love

The Film

Offering a rare look at the inner workings of the American child welfare system, Tough Love chronicles the lives of two parents — one in Seattle and one in New York City — as each fights to be reunited with children taken out of their custody.

The United States leads the world in the number of children in state-sponsored foster care. In 2011, over 250,000 children were removed from their parents’ homes and placed in foster care. Almost 80% of these child victimization cases involved findings of neglect, not abuse. Neglect allegations frequently involve poverty, mental illness, addiction, domestic violence, children with significant developmental challenges, and/or some combination of these factors.

Through intimate, verité footage of both families, in Tough Love we witness first-hand the crushing bureaucracy of America’s child welfare system. Moreover, we come to understand the powerful role poverty and prejudice play in keeping parents and children apart — and the challenges parents must overcome in order to put their families back together.

The Filmmakers

  1. Stephanie Wang-BrealProducer/Director
  2. Carrie WeprinProducer