Unnecessary family separation inflicted by the child welfare system – frequently referred to as the family regulation system – is one of the most pressing civil rights problems ravaging Black and brown families and communities across New York. Treating families based on assumptions about race, poverty, gender, and disability causes immense damage. Yet, currently no organization dedicates itself to bringing affirmative litigation on behalf of families to challenge and remedy the abuses of this system.
Currently housed at the Urban Justice Center’s Social Justice Accelerator program, the Family Justice Law Center (FJLC) is assembling our staff, mobilizing resources, and developing a litigation strategy. FJLC will fill the void in dedicated advocacy on behalf of poor families of color by challenging the rampant, egregious, and illegal separation of families and the harms attendant to the cruel dismantling of families.
Our work is supported by a wide community of advocates, organizers, professionals, and parents with lived experience. For more information about our advisory boards, click here.
Academic Advisory Board
- Khiara M. Bridges – Professor of Law at UC Berkeley School of Law; author of Reproducing Race: An Ethnography of Pregnancy as a Site of Racialization, The Poverty of Privacy Rights, and Critical Race Theory: A Primer.
- Juliet M. Brodie – Professor of Law, Peter E. Haas Faculty Director of the Haas Center for Public Service, and Director of Community Law Clinic at Stanford Law School; co-author and co-editor of Poverty Law: Policy and Practice.
- Andrew Manuel Crespo –Morris Wasserstein Public Interest Professor of Law and Executive Faculty Director of the Institute to End Mass Incarceration at Harvard Law School; co-author of Criminal Law and the American Penal System; elected member of the American Law Institute; member on the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States.
- Peggy Cooper Davis – John S. R. Shad Professor of Lawyering and Ethics and Director, Experiential Learning Lab at NYU Law School; former New York Family Court Judge; author of Neglected Stories: The Constitution and Family Values and Enacting Freedom.
- Premal Dharia – Executive Director of the Institute to End Mass Incarceration and Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School; former public defender for children and adults in local and federal courts.
- Christine Gottlieb – Co-Director, Family Defense Clinic, Adjunct Professor of Clinical Law, and Research Scholar at NYU Law School.
- Martin Guggenheim – Fiorello LaGuardia Professor of Clinical Law and Co-Director of the Family Defense Clinic at NYU Law School; author of What’s Wrong with Children’s Rights; advisor to the American Law Institute’s Restatement on Children and the Law.
- Josh Gupta-Kagan – Professor of Law at University of South Carolina School of Law; author of America’s Hidden Foster Care System in the Stanford Law Review; former attorney at the Children’s Law Center.
- Kristin Henning – The Blume Professor of Law and Director of the Juvenile Justice Clinic and Initiative at Georgetown University Law Center; author of The Rage of Innocence: How America Criminalizes Black Youth.
- Julia Hernandez – Associate Professor of Law at CUNY School of Law; former attorney with Brooklyn Defender Services in the Family Defense Practice; co-author of Clinicians Reflect on COVID-19: Lessons Learned and Looking Beyond.
- Leah Hill – Clinical Professor of Law at Fordham Law; Fulbright Scholar; author of Loving Lessons: White Supremacy, Loving v. Virginia, and Disproportionality in the Child Welfare System.
- Tarek Z. Ismail – Associate Professor of Law at CUNY School of Law; former attorney with Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility (CLEAR) project and Brooklyn Defender Services in the Family Defense Practice.
- Conrad Johnson – Clinical Professor of Law and Director of Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic at Columbia Law School; Co-Creator of The Collateral Consequences Calculator.
- Sarah Lorr – Assistant Professor of Clinical Law and Co-Director of the Disability and Civil Rights Clinic at Brooklyn Law School; former attorney at Brooklyn Defender Services in the Family Defense Clinic.
- Nancy Polikoff – Professor of Law Emerita at American University Washington College of Law; author of Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage: Valuing All Families Under the Law; co-founder of the Feminist Law Collective.
- Vivek S. Sankaran – Clinical Professor of Law, Director of the Child Advocacy Law Clinic, and Director of the Child Welfare Appellate Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School; co-editor of Child Welfare Law and Practice.
- Jane M. Spinak – Edward Ross Aranow Clinical Professor of Law at Columbia Law School; former attorney-in-charge of the Juvenile Rights Division of The Legal Aid Society of New York City; founding chair and current member of the board of the Center for Family Representation; advisor to the American Law Institute’s Restatement of the Law, Children and the Law.
- Brian Wolfman – Professor from Practice and Director of the Appellate Courts Immersion Clinic at Georgetown University Law Center; former director of Public Citizen Litigation Group.
Community Advisory Board
- Ericka Brewington – Parent Advocate at Sinergia Inc.; parent who has been affected.
- Daphnne Brown – Director of Outreach at Families Together in New York State; parent who has been affected.
- Darlene Jackson – Legal Advocate at Neighborhood Defender Services of Harlem; person who has been affected.
- Kim D. Kaiser – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Professional; Director of Programming and Policy at The Color of Autism Foundation; Systems Advocate, Community, and Family Empowerment Specialist, Trainer, and Speaker; former Child Protective Services (CPS) worker.
- April Lee – Peer Parent Advocate at Community Legal Services; parent who has been affected.
- Joyce McMillan – Executive Director of JMacForFamilies; Founder of Parent Legislative Action Network (PLAN); Advisory Committee member at The Center for New York City Affairs at the New School; parent who has been affected.
- Jean Padilla – Parent Advocate and Team Leader at the Bronx Defenders.
- Shrounda Selivanhoff – Director of Public Policy at Children’s Home Society of Washington; recipient of the 2021 Casey Excellence for Children Award; parent who has been affected.
- Desseray Wright – Parent Advocate; Founder of Blessings in Transformation; parent who has been affected.