Three members of the State Bar were announced Thursday as recipients of the Foster Care Review Board’s 2011 Child Welfare Awards.
Department of Human Services Director Maura D. Corrigan presented the awards at the FCRB’s annual conference in Southfield.
Cheboygan attorney Donna Hansel received Lawyer-Guardian Ad Litem of the Year Award. Besides having represented children in foster care for eight years, she also is a licensed foster parent, having fostered more than 50 children.
Hansel’s nominator, Judge Robert John Butts of the Cheboygan County Probate Court, noted her “exceptional representation” of children, including efforts she made to find a permanent home for three young children whose parents died in a boating accident.
University of Michigan Law School Professor Vivek Sankaran was named Parent Attorney of the Year. He directs the Child Advocacy Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School, and also founded the Detroit Center for Family Advocacy.
And, Judge Leslie Kim Smith of Wayne County Circuit Court received the Jurist of the Year Award for her work as a family court judge. The FCRB cited the 24-year judge’s creation of an expedited reunification docket and parent orientation project, which helps increase the number of children reunified with their parents and reduce the time children spend in foster care.
Created by the Michigan Legislature in 1981, the FCRB serves as a statewide system of third-party review of the foster care system. It’s administered by the State Court Administrative Office, and is comprised of citizen volunteers who serve on one of 30 local review boards throughout the state.