Vivek Sankaran

Vivek Sankaran.


Is Every Foster Care Removal Really an Emergency?

Let’s say that my neighbor is upset because he believes I encroached on his property by building a fence on it. So he sneaks into court – without my knowledge – and obtains a court order from a judge requiring me to immediately remove the fence.

Vivek Sankaran.


With Child Welfare, Racism Is Hiding in The Discretion

My first client as a family defense lawyer was a Black mother who left her 13-year-old in charge of 8- and 6-year-old siblings while she went to the dry cleaners. In suburban America, we call this babysitting.

Vivek Sankaran.


Reimagining Courts As Dispensers of Justice After Coronavirus

During a recent training, a judge showed us a glimpse of his future courtroom and what awaits us when juvenile courts reopen. A plexiglass shield will separate the judge from the litigants.

Vivek Sankaran.


In Child Welfare Cases, Just Any Old Lawyer Won’t Do

During a virtual town hall last week, parents asked gut-wrenching questions to child welfare leadership. “When can I see my kids again?” “I was having unsupervised visits with them. Why can’t they come live with me?”


What Comes Next for Child Welfare? Two Experts Weigh In

  At some point, the world and the nation will get past the initial, horrific onset of the coronavirus pandemic. In its wake will almost certainly be a recession, corresponding unemployment and hard times for millions of American families. 


The Need for Extraordinary Efforts: Time of Crisis Reveal a System’s Values

Consider this scenario, likely to repeat itself across the country. In a month or two or more from now, my client will appear before a juvenile court judge for the first time since the coronavirus crisis forced courts to close their doors.

    American Bar Association Confronts Anti-Black Discrimination in Child Welfare


    A Crisis Reveals the Need to Modernize Juvenile Courts

    This week, I received word that many courts – including the juvenile court in which I practice – were closing. That is, for the indefinite future, my court would not be holding any hearings, other than emergency hearings, to address whether a child needs to be removed for their immediate safety.


    Child Welfare Professionals Must Embrace a Culture of Scrutiny

    Last week, NBC ran a troubling story involving Wisconsin doctor John Cox, who lost custody of his daughter after he accidentally fell asleep on top of her. He feared he broke her collarbone so he immediately called his wife, also a doctor.


    Beyond Counsel: What Lawyers Can Mean to Parents

    I opened my inbox to find an email titled, “I can’t take this life anymore.” My heart sank. These were the words of a former client, a young adult who had aged out of foster care after living in more than 10 placements.