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Sankaran, Vivek

Clinical Professor of Law
Child Advocacy Law Clinic

3050 South Hall

Prof. Vivek S. Sankaran is a clinical professor of law in the Child Advocacy Law Clinic and director of the Detroit Center for Family Advocacy. Prof. 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. Prof. Sankaran sits on the Steering Committee of the ABA National Project to Improve Representation for Parents Involved in the Child Welfare System and is a member of the ABA Commission on Homelessness and Poverty. He has litigated numerous cases on behalf of parents before the Michigan Supreme Court. He also has authored scholarly pieces and practical resource guides to assist professionals working with parents in the system and regularly conducts national and statewide training on these issues. He also was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to the Child Abuse Prevention Board.

Prof. Sankaran earned his BA, magna cum laude, from the College of William and Mary. He earned his JD, cum laude, from Michigan Law, where he was an associate editor of 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. Prof. 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. In 2011, he was named the Parent Attorney of the Year by the Michigan Foster Care Review Board.

Recent Publications

More Publications...

"Using Preventive Legal Advocacy to Keep Children from Entering Foster Care." Wm. Mitchell L. Rev. 40, no. 3 (2014): 1036-47.
Full Text: WWW

"Preventing the Unnecessary Entry of Children into Foster Care." Mich. B. J. 90, no. 9 (2011): 41.
Full Text: HEIN (UMich users) | HEIN

"No Harm, No Foul? Why Harmless Error Analysis Should not Be Used to Review Wrongful Denials of Counsel to Parents in Child Welfare Cases." S. C. L. Rev. 63, no. 1 (2011): 13-41.
Full Text: HEIN (UMich users) | HEIN | Westlaw

"Representing Parents in Child Welfare Cases." In Child Welfare Law and Practice: Representing Children, Parents, and State Agencies in Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency Cases. 2nd ed., edited by D. Duquette and A. Haralambie, 579-615. Denver: Bradford Pub. Co., 2010.

​Co-author. "Crow Dog vs. Spotted Tail: Case Closed." T. Connors, co-author. Mich. B. J. 89, no. 7 (2010): 36-8.
Full Text: HEIN (UMich users) | HEIN

"A Hidden Crisis: The Need to Strengthen Representation of Parents in Child Protective Proceedings." Mich. B. J. 89, no. 10 (2010): 36-9.
Full text: HEIN (UMich users) | HEIN | WWW

"When Child Protective Services Comes Knocking." Fam. Advoc. 31, no. 3 (2009): 8-10, 12, 14-15.
Full Text: HEIN (UMich users) | HEIN

"Parens Patriae Run Amuck: The Child Welfare System's Disregard for the Constitutional Rights of Non-Offending Parents." Temp. L. Rev. 82, no. 1 (2009): 55-87.
Full text: SSRN | HEIN (UMich users) | HEIN | Westlaw

​Judicial Oversight Over the Interstate Placement of Foster Children: The Missing Element in Current Efforts to Reform the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children." Cap. U. L. Rev. 38, no. 2 (2009): 385-408.
Full Text: SSRN | HEIN (UMich users) | HEIN | Westlaw



Gave four presentations during the ABA National Parents' Attorneys Conference in Washington, D.C. in July 2013: "Transforming Injustice into Systemic Reform," "Using Legal Wrap Around to Close the Front Door of Child Welfare," "Telling the Stories of Clients in Child Welfare Appeals," and "Navigating the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children: Strategies for Parents' Attorneys When Your Client Lives Out of State."

Child Welfare Advanced Appellate Training, Michigan State Court Administrative Office, Detroit, June 2013.

Presented "The Foundations of Strong Parent Advocacy" at Minnesota's Children's Justice Initiative Parent Attorney Conference, St. Cloud, Minnesota, May 16, 2013.

Presented "Parental Placements under the ICPC" at the Association of Administrators of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children conference, Denver, May 6, 2013.

Appointed to a three-year term to the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, March 2011.

Presented "Appellate Training for Parents' Attorneys in Child Welfare Cases—Spotting and Evaluating Issues," American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, December 2010.

Presented "Parent's Attorney Role in Improving Reunification Outcomes," NACC National Child Welfare, Juvenile and Family Law Conference, Austin, Texas, October 2010.

Presented "How the Child Welfare System Disempowers Parents and Why We Should Care," 2010 Children and the Courts Conference, Little Rock, Arkansas, May 2010.

Presented "A Paradigm Shift in Child Welfare: Supporting Families to Prevent Unnecessary Removals: The Work of the Detroit Center for Family Advocacy," State Court Administrative Office Annual Child Welfare Services Conference, Lansing, Michigan, April 2010.

Presented "Bringing Back the Dads: Effective Practice for Engaging Non-Resident Fathers in the Child Welfare System," State Court Administrative Office Annual Child Welfare Services Conference, Lansing, Michigan, April 2010.

Panelist, Washington University Access to Equal Justice Colloquium, March 2010.

Panelist, Child Welfare Panel, University of District of Columbia Law Review Symposium, February 2010.

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