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Full-Text Articles in Law

Rethinking Foster Care: Why Our Current Approach To Child Welfare Has Failed, Vivek Sankaran, Christopher Church Apr 2020

Rethinking Foster Care: Why Our Current Approach To Child Welfare Has Failed, Vivek Sankaran, Christopher Church

Articles

Over the past decade, the child welfare system has expanded, with vast public and private resources being spent on the system. Despite this investment, there is scant evidence suggesting a meaningful return on investment. This Article argues that without a change in the values held by the system, increased funding will not address the public health problems of child abuse and neglect.


Prenatal Drug Exposure As Aggravated Circumstances, Frank E. Vandervort Nov 2019

Prenatal Drug Exposure As Aggravated Circumstances, Frank E. Vandervort

Articles

In Michigan, "a child has a legal right to begin life with sound mind and body." Yet the family court may not assert Juvenile Code jurisdiction until after birth. In re Baby X addressed the question of whether a parent's prenatal conduct may form the basis for jurisdiction upon birth. It held that a mother's drug use during pregnancy is neglect, allowing the court to assert jurisdiction immediately upon the child's birth. In deciding Baby X, the Court specifically reserved the question of whether parental drug use during pregnancy might be sufficient to permanently deprive a parent ...


Advocating For Children With Disabilities In Child Protection Cases, Joshua B. Kay Aug 2019

Advocating For Children With Disabilities In Child Protection Cases, Joshua B. Kay

Articles

Children with disabilities are maltreated at a higher rate than other children and overrepresented in child protection matters, yet most social service caseworkers, judges, child advocates, and other professionals involved in these cases receive little to no training about evaluating and addressing their needs. Child protection case outcomes for children with disabilities tend to differ from those of nondisabled children, with more disabled children experiencing a termination of their parents' rights and fewer being reunified with their parents or placed with kin. They also tend to experience longer waits for adoption. Furthermore, the poor outcomes that plague youth who age ...


A Cure Worse Than The Disease? The Impact Of Removal On Children And Their Families, Vivek Sankaran, Christopher Church, Monique Mitchell Jul 2019

A Cure Worse Than The Disease? The Impact Of Removal On Children And Their Families, Vivek Sankaran, Christopher Church, Monique Mitchell

Articles

Removing children from their parents is child welfare's most drastic intervention. Research clearly establishes the profound and irreparable damage family separation can inflict on children and their parents. To ensure that this intervention is only used when necessary, a complex web of state and federal constitutional principles, statutes, administrative regulations, judicial decisions, and agency policies govern the removal decision. Central to these authorities is the presumption that a healthy and robust child welfare system keeps families together, protects children from harm, and centers on the needs of children and their parents. Yet, research and practice-supported by administrative data-paint a ...


Keynote: The Protection Of Lgbt Youth, Craig Konnoth Jan 2019

Keynote: The Protection Of Lgbt Youth, Craig Konnoth

Articles

This keynote contains three parts. Part I addresses the intersection of two metaphors: medicine and childhood in LGBT Rights. Part II addresses the state regulation of LGBT youth. Part III offers Professor Konnoth's concluding remarks on the protection of LGBT youth.


My Name Is Not 'Respondent Mother': The Need For Procedural Justice In Child Welfare Cases, Vivek S. Sankaran Jun 2018

My Name Is Not 'Respondent Mother': The Need For Procedural Justice In Child Welfare Cases, Vivek S. Sankaran

Articles

You are a parent whose children are in foster care. Your court hearing is today, after which you hope your children will return home. Upon leaving the bus, you wait in line to enter the court. At the metal detectors you’re told you can’t bring your cell phone inside. With no storage options, you hide your phone in the bushes, hoping it will be there when you return.


Moving Beyond Lassiter: The Need For A Federal Statutory Right To Counsel For Parents In Child Welfare Cases, Vivek S. Sankaran Dec 2017

Moving Beyond Lassiter: The Need For A Federal Statutory Right To Counsel For Parents In Child Welfare Cases, Vivek S. Sankaran

Articles

In New York City, an indigent parent can receive the assistance of a multidisciplinary legal team—an attorney, a social worker, and a parent advocate—to defend against the City’s request to temporarily remove a child from her care. But in Mississippi, that same parent can have her rights to her child permanently terminated without ever receiving the assistance of a single lawyer. In Washington State, the Legislature has ensured that parents ensnared in child abuse and neglect proceedings will receive the help of a well-trained and well-compensated attorney with a reasonable caseload. Yet in Tennessee, its Supreme Court ...


Child Welfare's Scarlet Letter: How A Prior Termination Of Parental Rights Can Permanently Brand A Parent As Unfit, Vivek S. Sankaran Oct 2017

Child Welfare's Scarlet Letter: How A Prior Termination Of Parental Rights Can Permanently Brand A Parent As Unfit, Vivek S. Sankaran

Articles

In many jurisdictions, once a parent has her rights terminated to one child, the State can use that decision to justify the termination of parental rights to another child. The State can do so regardless of whether the parent is fit to parent the second child. This article explores this practice, examines its origins, and discusses its constitutional inadequacies.


Timely Permanency Or Unnecessary Removal?: Tips For Advocates For Children Who Spend Less Than 30 Days In Foster Care, Christopher Church, Monique Mitchell, Vivek Sankaran Jun 2017

Timely Permanency Or Unnecessary Removal?: Tips For Advocates For Children Who Spend Less Than 30 Days In Foster Care, Christopher Church, Monique Mitchell, Vivek Sankaran

Articles

Removal and placement in foster care is child welfare’s most severe intervention, contemplated as “a last resort rather than the first.” Federal law, with an overarching goal of preventing unnecessary removals, bolsters this principle by requiring juvenile and family courts to carefully oversee the removal of children to foster care. Expansive research reminds the field that removal, while often necessary, is not a benign intervention. Physically, legally, and emotionally separating children from their parent(s) can traumatize children in lasting ways. Yet review of federal data concerning children in foster care reveal a troubling narrative: each year, tens of ...


A Liberal Dilemma: Respecting Autonomy While Also Protecting Inchoate Children From Prenatal Substance Abuse., Andrew J. Weisberg, Frank E. Vandervort Mar 2016

A Liberal Dilemma: Respecting Autonomy While Also Protecting Inchoate Children From Prenatal Substance Abuse., Andrew J. Weisberg, Frank E. Vandervort

Articles

Substance abuse is a significant social problem in America. It is estimated that some eighteen million Americans have an alcohol abuse problem and that almost five million have a drug abuse problem. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, substance abuse costs some $700 billion per year Substance abuse is a major contributor to child maltreatment. It is estimated that between one- and two-thirds of cases in which children enter foster care are linked to parental substance abuse. Unfortunately, this may be an underestimate as recent research suggests that many cases, particularly cases in which children have been exposed ...


Easy Come, Easy Go: The Plight Of Children Who Spend Less Than 30 Days In Foster Care, Vivek Sankaran, Christopher Church Jan 2016

Easy Come, Easy Go: The Plight Of Children Who Spend Less Than 30 Days In Foster Care, Vivek Sankaran, Christopher Church

Articles

This article explores the plight of “short stayers” and argues that juvenile courts are failing to use two tools—the federal reasonable efforts requirement and the early appointment of parents’ counsel—to prevent the unnecessary entry of children into foster care. The article also argues that states should give parents and children the right to an expedited appeal of removal decisions to ensure removal standards are properly applied. Finally, this article argues that the federal government must acknowledge the problem of short stayers by utilizing data related to children who may unnecessarily enter foster care in the Child and Family ...


The Intersection Of Family Law And Education Law, Debra Chopp Jul 2014

The Intersection Of Family Law And Education Law, Debra Chopp

Articles

It is well-established that parents have a fundamental liberty interest in directing the education of their children. As family law practitioners know, however, parents do not always agree with each other on matters pertaining to their child's education. Where education issues arise in family law cases, it is important for members of the family law bar to have familiarity with education laws so that they may properly advise their clients. This article will identify and briefly discuss common intersections of family law and education law.


Foster Kids In Limbo: The Effects Of The Interstate Compact On Children In Foster Care, Vivek Sankaran Jun 2014

Foster Kids In Limbo: The Effects Of The Interstate Compact On Children In Foster Care, Vivek Sankaran

Articles

Each year, child welfare agencies make over 40,000 requests for home studies to determine whether children in foster care can be placed with parents, relatives, and others living in another state. Each request is governed by the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC), a uniform law adopted by every state to coordinate the placement of foster children in other states. Under the ICPC, a child can only be placed in foster care in another state after the receiving state conducts a home study and approves the proposed placement. Despite its good intentions, the ICPC has become unworkable ...


Using Preventive Legal Advocacy To Keep Children From Entering Foster Care, Vivek Sankaran Jan 2014

Using Preventive Legal Advocacy To Keep Children From Entering Foster Care, Vivek Sankaran

Articles

Children may unnecessarily enter foster care because their parents are unable to resolve legal issues that affect their safety and well-being in their home.[...] Yet these kinds of legal needs for poor families are rarely met. On average, poor families experience at least one civil legal need per year, but only a small portion of those needs are satisfied. For about every six thousand people in poverty, there exists only one legal aid lawyer. So legal aid programs are forced to reject close to a million cases each year. This lack of legal services threatens the well-being of children[...] who ...


Effects Of Clergy Reporting Laws On Child Maltreatment Report Rates, Frank E. Vandervort, Vincent J. Palusci Jan 2014

Effects Of Clergy Reporting Laws On Child Maltreatment Report Rates, Frank E. Vandervort, Vincent J. Palusci

Articles

Child maltreatment (CM) reporting laws and policies have an important role in the identification, treatment, and prevention of CM in the United States (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [US DHHS], 2012). Abuse by a member of the clergy “is not only a personal and emotional betrayal, but [also] a spiritual betrayal, with secrecy amplified by the unprecedented and systemic cover-up committed by the Church hierarchy” (Coyne, 2011, p. 15). Recent controversies have resulted in the consideration of changes in mandated U.S. reporting laws that include increasing requirements for clergy and extension to additional professions (Freeh, Sporkin ...


The House Of Windsor: Accentuating The Heteronormativity In The Tax Incentives For Procreation, Anthony C. Infanti Jan 2014

The House Of Windsor: Accentuating The Heteronormativity In The Tax Incentives For Procreation, Anthony C. Infanti

Articles

Following the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor, many seem to believe that the fight for marriage equality at the federal level is over and that any remaining work in this area is at the state level. Belying this conventional wisdom, this essay continues my work plumbing the gap between the promise of Windsor and the reality that heteronormativity has been one of the core building blocks of our federal tax system. Eradicating embedded heteronormativity will take far more than a single court decision (or even revenue ruling); it will take years of work uncovering the subtle ...


Lgbt Families, Tax Nothings, Anthony C. Infanti Jan 2014

Lgbt Families, Tax Nothings, Anthony C. Infanti

Articles

The federal tax laws have never been friendly territory for LGBT families. Before the enactment of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal tax laws turned a blind eye to the existence of LGBT families by tacitly embracing state law discrimination against same-sex couples. When it enacted DOMA in 1996, Congress ensured that it would be able to continue to turn a blind eye to LGBT families even if one or more states were to legally recognize families headed by same-sex couples. In a real sense, LGBT families have been, and continue to be, tax outlaws.

This overt ...


Building Resilience In Foster Children: The Role Of The Child's Advocate, Frank E. Vandervort, James Henry, Mark A. Sloane Jan 2012

Building Resilience In Foster Children: The Role Of The Child's Advocate, Frank E. Vandervort, James Henry, Mark A. Sloane

Articles

This Article provides an introduction to, and brief overview of trauma, its impact upon foster children, and steps children's advocates" can take to lessen or ameliorate the impact of trauma upon their clients. This Article begins in Part 11 by defining relevant terms. Part III addresses the prevalence of trauma among children entering the child welfare system. Part IV considers the neurodevelopmental (i.e., the developing brain) impact of trauma on children and will explore how that trauma may manifest emotionally and behaviorally. With this foundation in place, Part V discusses the need for a comprehensive trauma assessment including ...


No Harm, No Foul? Why Harmless Error Analysis Should Not Be Used To Review Wrongful Denials Of Counsel To Parents In Child Welfare Cases, Vivek Sankaran Jan 2011

No Harm, No Foul? Why Harmless Error Analysis Should Not Be Used To Review Wrongful Denials Of Counsel To Parents In Child Welfare Cases, Vivek Sankaran

Articles

The application of a harmless error standard by appellate courts reviewing erroneous denials of counsel in child protective cases undermines a critical procedural right that safeguards the interests of parents and children. Case law reveals that trial courts, on numerous occasions, improperly reject valid requests for counsel, forcing parents to navigate the child welfare system without an advocate. Appellate courts excuse these violations by speculating that the denials caused no significant harm to the parents, which is a conclusion that a court can never reach with any certainty. The only appropriate remedy for this significant problem is a bright-line rule ...


Preventing The Unnecessary Entry Of Children Into Foster Care, Vivek Sankaran Jan 2011

Preventing The Unnecessary Entry Of Children Into Foster Care, Vivek Sankaran

Articles

A young mother of three endures abuse at the hands of the children's father. Her children repeatedly witness the violence in their home and describe it to a school teacher, who in turn places a call to Child Protective Services (CPS). A CPS investigator arrives at the home the next morning with a plethora of questions for the mother and her children. Have the children been hit? Did they observe the beatings? What steps has their mother taken to protect them? An adversarial conversation ensues. Unsatisfactory answers may lead to tragic consequences-the removal of the children from their home.


A Hidden Crisis: The Need To Strengthen Representation Of Parents In Child Protective Proceedings, Vivek Sankaran Jan 2010

A Hidden Crisis: The Need To Strengthen Representation Of Parents In Child Protective Proceedings, Vivek Sankaran

Articles

A national consensus is emerging that zealous legal representation of parents is crucial in ensuring that the child welfare system produces just outcomes for children. National groups, inclucing the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care, the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, and the National Association of Counsel for Children, have been outspoken on the need to strengthen legal advocacy on behalf of parents, and a number of states-including Colorado, Connecticut,' and Washington7 have initiated efforts to comprehensively reform their systems of appointing lawyers for indigent parents to better serve families. A national movement is afoot ...


Parens Patriae Run Amuck: The Child Welfare System's Disregard For The Constitutional Rights Of Non-Offending Parents, Vivek Sankaran Jan 2009

Parens Patriae Run Amuck: The Child Welfare System's Disregard For The Constitutional Rights Of Non-Offending Parents, Vivek Sankaran

Articles

Over the past hundred years, a consensus has emerged recognizing a parent's ability to raise his or her child as a fundamental, sacrosanct right protected by the Constitution. Federal courts have repeatedly rejected the parens patriae summary mode of decision making that predominated juvenile courts at the turn of the twentieth century and have instead held that juvenile courts must afford basic due process to parents prior to depriving them of custodial rights to their children. This recognition has led to the strengthening of procedural protections for parents accused of child abuse or neglect in civil child protection proceedings ...


Thou Good And Faithful Servant, Carl E. Schneider Jan 2009

Thou Good And Faithful Servant, Carl E. Schneider

Articles

Lawmakers are stewards of social resources. A current debate-over screening newborns for genetic disorders-illuminates dilemmas of that stewardship that have particularly plagued bioethics. Recently in the Report, Mary Ann Baily and Thomas Murray told the story of little Ben Haygood. He died from MCADD, a genetic disorder that can make long fasting fatal. Screening at birth would have let doctors alert Ben's parents. "After Ben died," Baily and Murray wrote, "his father became a passionate advocate for expanding Mississippi's newborn screening program to add MCADD and other disorders." Soon, the Ben Haygood Comprehensive Newborn Screening Act increased the ...


When Child Protective Services Comes Knocking, Vivek Sankaran Jan 2009

When Child Protective Services Comes Knocking, Vivek Sankaran

Articles

A child protective services (CPS) worker knocks on the door of your client, a 36-year-old mother involved in a contentious child custody case. The worker reveals only that she received an anonymous phone call alleging that your client physically abused her son and now she must investigate those allegations under state law. The worker demands to enter the house, interview the children, and inspect the premises. She threatens that a lack of cooperation may result in the filing of a court petition and the possible removal of the child. Your panicked client calls with a plethora of questions: Can CPS ...


Protecting A Parent's Right To Counsel In Child Welfare Cases, Vivek Sankaran Jan 2009

Protecting A Parent's Right To Counsel In Child Welfare Cases, Vivek Sankaran

Articles

A national consensus is emerging that zealous leagal representation for parents is crucial to ensure that the child welfare system produces just outcomes for children. Parents' lawyers protect important constitutional rights, prevent the unnecessary entry of children into foster care and guide parents through a complex system.


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, Vivek Sankaran Jan 2009

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, Vivek Sankaran

Articles

This article argues that current efforts to reform the Compact are flawed because they lack an essential element: judicial oversight of agency decision-making. The first section explores the important role that juvenile court judges play in making placement decisions for foster children. Next, an examination of the current problems in the interstate placement process demonstrates the vital need for judicial oversight of the system. Finally, a specific proposal is put forth on how best to incorporate judicial oversight without interfering with the sovereignty of states.


Evolutionary Theory And Kinship Foster Care: An Initial Test Of Two Hypotheses, David J. Herring, Jeffrey J. Shook, Sara Goodkind, Kevin H. Kim Jan 2009

Evolutionary Theory And Kinship Foster Care: An Initial Test Of Two Hypotheses, David J. Herring, Jeffrey J. Shook, Sara Goodkind, Kevin H. Kim

Articles

Public child welfare systems increasingly rely on kin to serve as foster parents. This study tests two hypotheses concerning kinship foster care that have been formulated based on evolutionary theory and behavioral biology research. The first hypothesis is that on average foster children are likely to benefit from higher levels of parental investment and realize better outcomes if placed with kin rather than non-kin foster parents. The second hypothesis is that on average children in kinship foster care placements are likely to benefit from higher levels of parental investment and realize better outcomes if placed with some types of kin ...


Advocating For The Constitutional Rights Of Nonresident Fathers, Vivek Sankaran Jan 2008

Advocating For The Constitutional Rights Of Nonresident Fathers, Vivek Sankaran

Articles

Months after a child welaare case is petitioned, a nonresident father appears in court and requests custody of his children who are living in foster care. Little is known about the father, and immediately, the system-judge, caseworkers, and attorneys view him with suspicion and caution, inquiring about his whereabouts and his prior involvement in the children's lives. Those doubts, in turn, raise complicated questions about his legal rights to his children. As a practioner working in the child welfare system, you're likely to face this scenario. The largest percentage of child victims of abuse and neglect come from ...


Navigating The Interstate Compact On The Placement Of Children: Advocacy Tips For Child Welfare Attorneys, Vivek Sankaran Jan 2008

Navigating The Interstate Compact On The Placement Of Children: Advocacy Tips For Child Welfare Attorneys, Vivek Sankaran

Articles

Legal advocates across the country confront hundreds of cases like Samira's each year. Many of those cases end with arms raised in frustration due to what appears to be a lack of options after the receiving state either fails to complete the home study or denies a placement. That frustration is understandabkle given the absence of language in the Compact outlining any process to compe states to complete home studies or to permit judicial review of placement denials. Yet, as advocates, we must move beyond this initial state of paralysis and develop creative ways to vindicate the rights of ...


Procedural Injustice: How The Practices And Procedures Of The Child Welfare System Disempower Parents And Why It Matters, Vivek Sankaran, Itzhak Lander Jan 2007

Procedural Injustice: How The Practices And Procedures Of The Child Welfare System Disempower Parents And Why It Matters, Vivek Sankaran, Itzhak Lander

Articles

Many of us appear surprised when families involved in the child protective system do not reunify. A parent’s path to reunification seems straightforward. Upon a finding of neglect, the court prescribes a basic regimen, typically consisting of parenting classes, counseling, drug testing, and a psychological evaluation, that a parent must fulfill prior to having the child returned to his/her custody. If a parent successfully completes these seemingly minimal requirements, the law requires reunification unless the return poses a “substantial risk of harm” to the child. With such high stakes involved, a clearly defined path for success, and the ...