The CFA gives at-risk families the legal tools necessary to protect their own children.
CFA lawyers, with the assistance of a social worker and parent advocate, use legal mechanisms – such as guardianships, child custody or personal protection orders, or educational advocacy – to allow family members to protect and provide for children without the need for expensive and traumatic out-of-family placement.
The CFA also assists kinship and other caregivers to overcome legal obstacles to adopt or obtain permanent guardianship – thus allowing children to exit government foster care.
With an emphasis on using private law remedies to keep children safe with their families, cases will be referred to the CFA by the Michigan Department of Human Services and others in the community. Once a case is accepted, a CFA attorney, social worker, and parent advocate will work closely with family members. Each individual on the CFA team will contribute a distinct set of skills:
Attorney will guide parents and caregivers through complex laws and procedures, providing zealous advocacy, timely legal assistance, and follow-up support.
Social worker will provide case management and help parents or caregivers access a network of social services.
Parent advocate, someone who experienced the child welfare system firsthand, will offer support and advice on navigating the system.
By providing timely, coordinated support for parents and kinship caregivers, CFA is helping to stop the tide of unnecessary foster care placements. That in turn will enable the current system to address the needs of youngsters who require its protection and care.
The CFA receives most of its referrals directly from the North Central Children’s Services District, which services the Osborn community.
In order to be eligible for CFA services, the potential client must have a connection to Osborn. For our CPS cases, the family must have been substantiated for abuse or neglect as a Category II or III case and legal advocacy on behalf of the parent, guardian or caretaker will help that person provide a safe and stable home for the child. For our foster care cases, the child must be in foster care but legal services to a potential permanent caregiver could remove obstacles for the child to exit from care and could facilitate permanent placement.
If you have a case that meets these criteria and the client is connected to the Osborn community, please contact us.
Vivek Sankaran, a clinical assistant professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School, is the director of the Center. Professor Sankaran's research and policy interests center on improving outcomes for children in child abuse and neglect cases by empowering parents and strengthening due process protections in the child welfare system. Professor Sankaran sits on the Steering Committee of the ABA National Project to Improve Representation for Parents Involved in the Child Welfare System and chairs the Michigan Court Improvement Project subcommittee on parent representation. He has also authored scholarly pieces and practical resource guides to assist professionals working with parents in the system and regularly conducts national and statewide trainings on these issues.
Professor Sankaran earned his B.A. magna cum laude from the College of William and Mary. He earned his J.D. cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School, where he was an associate editor on the Michigan Law Review. After law school, he joined The Children's Law Center (CLC) as a Skadden Fellow and became a permanent staff attorney with the CLC in September 2003. He supervised attorneys handling child abuse and neglect matters and carried his own caseload representing children, parents, and caregivers in abuse, custody, and domestic violence proceedings at both the trial court and appellate levels in the District of Columbia. Professor Sankaran was named the 2004 Michigan Law School Public Interest Alumni of the Year and in 2006, was certified as a child welfare specialist by the National Association of Counsel for Children. He currently sits on the Board of Trustees of the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Foundation and is a member of the Equal Access Initiative of the Michigan State Bar.
Professor Sankaran can be reached at email@example.com.
Osborn is one of six Detroit neighborhoods chosen by the Skillman Foundation as part of its Good Neighborhoods Initiative. It is a community of 37,000 residents in Northeast Detroit, bordered on the East by Gratiot Avenue and on the West by Van Dyke. The Northern border – 8 Mile Road – is also the border of Detroit. The Southern border is McNichols Road. Osborn is home to over 14,000 children and youth.
Osborn has a majority African American population (84%), a white population of 9% and an Asian population of 4.2%. The median income of families in the community is $32,421; 24.3% of households live in poverty. Children living in poverty make up 35.7% of the Osborn population compared to 13.9% statewide. Over thirty percent of families are headed by single parents (compared to a national average of 9.1%) and 22.4% of children are born to teen parents. The infant mortality rate in Osborn is 13.9 per 1,000 (compared to 6.9 per 1,000 nationally). More details about the community can be found at www.goodosborn.org.
The CFA Osborn Office is located in the Matrix Human Services Center. Click here http://www.matrixhumanservices.org/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=94) for information about the Matrix Center.
Please feel free to contact us with any questions.
Main Office Osborn Office
3031 W. Grand Blvd Matrix Human Services Center
Suite 440 13560 East McNichols
Detroit, MI 48202 Detroit, MI 48205
Phone: (313) 875-4233
Fax: (313) 875-4320