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Sankaran, Vivek

Clinical Professor of Law
Child Advocacy Law Clinic
Child Welfare Appellate Clinic

3050 Jeffries Hall
734.936.9706
E-mail vss@umich.edu

Vivek Sankaran, '01, advocates for the rights of children and parents involved in child welfare proceedings. His work focuses on improving outcomes for children in foster care by empowering their parents and strengthening decision-making processes in juvenile courts. A clinical professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School, Professor Sankaran directs both the Child Advocacy Law Clinic and the Child Welfare Appellate Clinic, through which law students represent children and parents in trial and appellate proceedings. Professor Sankaran has written numerous articles focused on improving the child welfare system and has litigated cases before the Michigan Supreme Court. In addition, he conducts state and national trainings and works on child welfare initiatives with various national groups, including the American Bar Association, Casey Family Programs, and the National Center for State Courts.

After graduating from Michigan Law in 2001, Professor Sankaran received a Skadden Fellowship to represent children at The Children's Law Center in Washington, D.C., where he remained until 2005, when he joined the Law School faculty. In 2009, Professor Sankaran founded the Detroit Center for Family Advocacy, the first organization in the country to provide multidisciplinary legal assistance to families to prevent the unnecessary entry of children into foster care. In 2011, he was named Michigan's Parent Attorney of the Year. Most recently, Professor Sankaran co-edited both the first national book for family defense lawyers and the third edition of Child Welfare Law and Practice, a widely recognized resource used by child welfare lawyers across the country.

Recent Publications

More Publications...


"Rethinking Foster Case." SMU L. Rev. (Forthcoming).

"A Cure Worse Than the Disease? The Impact of Removal on Children and Their Families." Christopher Church and Monique Mitchell, co-authors. Marq. L. Rev. 102, no. 4 (2019): 1163-94.
Full Text: MLaw Repository | HEIN (UMich users) | HEIN | Lexis | Westlaw

​"My Name Is Not 'Respondent Mother': The Need for Procedural Justice in Child Welfare Cases." ABA Child L. Prac. Today (2018).
Full Text: MLaw Repository

"Timely Permanency or Unnecessary Removal?" Christopher Church and Monique Mitchell, co-authors. ABA Child L. Prac. 36, no. 3 (2017): 71-2.
Full Text: MLaw Repository | HEIN (UMich users) | HEIN | Westlaw | WWW

"Moving Beyond Lassiter: The Need for a Federal Statutory Right to Counsel for Parents in Child Welfare Cases." J. Legis. 44, no. 1 (2017): 1-21.
Full Text: MLaw Repository | HEIN (UMich users) | HEIN | Lexis | Westlaw | WWW

"Child Welfare's Scarlet Letter: How a Prior Termination of Parental Rights Can Permanently Brand A Parent as Unfit." NYU Rev. L. & Soc. Change 41, no. 4 (2017): 685-706.
Full Text: MLaw Repository | HEIN (UMich users) | HEIN | Lexis

"Representing Parents in Child Welfare Cases." In Child Welfare Law and Practice: Representing Children, Parents, and State Agencies in Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency Cases. 3rd ed., by National Association of Counsel for Children; edited by D. N. Duquette, A. M. Haralambie, and V. S. Sankaran, 767-816. Denver: Bradford Publishing Co., 2016.

"Easy Come, Easy Go: The Plight of Children Who Spend Less Than 30 Days in Foster Care." C. Church, U. Pa. J.L. & Soc. Change 19, no. 3 (2016): 207-38.
Full Text: MLaw Repository | HEIN (UMich users) | HEIN | Lexis | Westlaw

Co-editor. Child Welfare Law and Practice: Representing Children, Parents, and State Agencies in Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency Cases. 3rd ed. D. Duquette and A. M. Haralambie, co-editors. Denver: Bradford Publishing Co., 2016.​

"Child Welfare Appellate Advocacy." In Child Welfare Law and Practice: Representing Children, Parents, and State Agencies in Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency Cases. 3rd ed., by National Association of Counsel for Children; 731-50. Denver: Bradford Publishing Co., 2016.
Professor

Activities

Presented "The Need For High-Quality Legal Representation in Child Welfare Cases" and "Litigating Termination of Parental Rights Cases" at the Oklahoma Children's Conference, Oklahoma City, October 2019.

Presented a webinar, "Preventive Legal Advocacy—How Lawyers Can Help Prevent Children from Unnecessarily Entering Foster Care," for Casey Family Programs, October 2019.

Presented "In re Ferranti and its Aftermath" at the Family Division Referee Seminar sponsored by the Michigan Judicial Institute, Lansing, October 2019.

Presented "When Opportunity Knocks: Leveraging Title IV-E Funding to Advance Legal Representation for Children and Their Families" at the 42nd National Child Welfare Conference, Anaheim, California, August 2019.

Presented "Legal Advocacy as a Prevention Strategy" at the Children's Bureau's Community Collaboration to Strengthen and Preserve Families Annual Grantee Meeting, Washington, D.C., August 2019.

Presented "Updates in Child Welfare Law" to the Wayne County Juvenile Trial Lawyers Association, Detroit, August 2019.

Presented "How to Create a Trauma-Responsive Courtroom: What to Expect From Your Attorneys" at the Alia Judges' Summit, Minneapolis, August 2019.

Facilitated a panel discussion on "IVE Reimbursement for Parent and Children's Attorneys: A Prevention Tool to Support Families Through Legal Representation" at the National Council of Family and Juvenile Court Judges Conference, Orlando, July 2019.

Spoke at a panel discussion, "Death by a Thousand Cuts: Recent Trends in Family Law," at the NAACP National Convention, Detroit, July 2019.

Presented "A Revolution of Values—Three Fundamental Principles that Should Guide Child Welfare Reform" and "Legal Representation as a Prevention Strategy" at the Wyoming Joint Symposium on Children and Youth, Cheyenne, June 2019.

Co-facilitated the "Family Defense Appellate Workshop" for Michigan's State Court Administrative Office, University of Michigan Law School, Ann Arbor, June 2019.

Presented "Sparking a Revolution of Values: Changing the Narrative in Child Welfare Cases" at the Protecting Delaware's Children Conference, Child Protection Accountability Commission, Dover, Delaware, April 2019.

Presented "The Legal Representation as a Prevention Tool" at the Courts as Critical Partners in Navigating Prevention Through Permanency Conference, Atlanta, February 2019.

Participated in the panel discussion, "Presumed Guilty: Parents of Color in the Child Welfare System," at the 38th Annual Sparer Symposium, University of Pennsylvania Law School, Philadelphia, February 2019.

Served on the faculty of the National Legal Aid and Defenders' Association Appellate Training, New Orleans, January 2019.

Co-presented "Separating Children From Their Parents" at the Michigan Statewide Conference on Abuse and Neglect, Plymouth, Michigan, October 2018.