Vivek Sankaran Compels Us: Examine Underlying Racism and Fix the Broken Foster Care System

Vivek Sankaran ('01), Professor of Law and Director of the Child Advocacy Law Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School, contributed an article to The Chronicle of Social Change discussing the broad definition of 'neglect,' racial bias, and the danger of discretion as combined factors in creating a foster care system that disproportionately separates families of color ("With Child Welfare, Racism Is Hiding in the Discretion," June 21). "The huge pot of federal money for foster care should be redirected to addressing underlying causes of 'neglect,' such as inadequate housing, jobs or health care. Birth families need that money, not the foster care system. … For too long, child welfare professionals have allowed the benevolence of their motives to blind us to the system's failing. The needless destruction of Black families is entirely preventable. We just need to acknowledge our mistakes and find a better way."