University of Michigan Law School trying to keep Detroit children out of foster care
University of Michigan Law School students will have a new chance to advocate for children. The Detroit Center for Family Advocacy opened this month as a partnership between the U-M Law School and the Wayne County Department of Human Services. The goal of the center's staff is to keep children out of foster care whenever possible.
Law students in U-M's Child Advocacy Clinic will help manage cases under faculty supervision. The center will serve the Osborn neighborhood on Detroit's East Side, an area with a high rate of children being removed from their families. One-third of Michigan's foster children and half of permanent court wards are from Wayne County, according to a U-M news release. Other staff will include a specially trained attorney, a social worker and a parent advocate. The three-year pilot program will be directed by Professor Vivek Sankaran. Professor Don Duquette will coordinate the project evaluation. Both teach in the law school's Child Advocacy Law Clinic, which Duquette founded 30 years ago as the first clinic of its kind in the U.S. "This center represents an opportunity to help turn hundreds of lives around," Sankaran said in the news release. "Children are better off being raised by family rather than by the government. We hope to provide legal tools to empower family members to protect and care for their own children rather than depend upon government foster care." Sankaran likened the structure of the center to a teaching hospital, with trainees working under skilled staff in an underserved neighborhood. The center is being funded by multiple grants and the U-M.