Vivek Sankaran Champions Accountability and Institutional Legal Representation in Child Welfare Cases

Vivek Sankaran ('01), Professor of Law at the University of Michigan, contributed an article to The Chronicle of Social Change outlining a course for state child welfare agencies to apply federal foster care funds in transforming legal representation for parents and children ("In Child Welfare Cases, Just Any Old Lawyer Won't Do," Apr. 28). "This pandemic has provided a long-overdue jolt to our system. This jolt gives us the chance to re-examine our broken system and to reimagine how we can better support families. Strong legal representation by institutional providers is a first step."

Vivek also co-authored an article for the SMU Law Review Forum calling for fundamental change at the heart of an expanded child welfare system, a reduction in child-family separations, and creating a network of support for children to safely return home. ("Rethinking Foster Care: Why Our Current Approach To Child Welfare Has Failed," Feb 25.) "The failing of our past decade has been our complacency with quick-fix solutions, or our tinkering with our inadequate infrastructure and approach, to address a complex problem. Child welfare continues to face an adaptive challenge that requires us to alter the values we bring to the work. We must abandon the simplicity of technical compliance and change how we view families involved in the system to develop a family-oriented child welfare system."