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Hannah Burton

  • Hosted by The Institute to Transform Child Protection
  • Sponsored by Allen I Saeks PA, The Family of Hyman Edelman
  • Service location St.Paul, Minnesota
  • Law school Mitchell Hamline School of Law
  • Issue area Children/Youth, Family Law
  • Fellowship class year 2023
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Hannah’s work will focus on providing preventative legal services that support families in the early stages of the child protection process to promote family preservation and prevent trauma.

Many families involved with the child protection system experience unnecessary disruption and system-imposed trauma which has harmful long-term effects on children, their families, and communities. Minnesota consistently removes children from their homes at a higher rate than the national average primarily because of issues of neglect stemming from poverty. Although both federal and state laws require child protection agencies to make reasonable efforts to prevent removal, services and supports are commonly reactive and provided to families after a child has been removed from their home. This problem disproportionately impacts Native American, Black, and multi-racial children who are more likely than white children to be removed from their families.

Fellowship Plans

Pre-petition legal representation prevents unnecessary child protection involvement and removal of children from their families by providing high-quality, interdisciplinary legal representation at the earliest stages of the child protection process. During her Fellowship, Hannah will work to develop and implement preventative legal services for families utilizing an interdisciplinary approach. The project will focus on removing barriers to meaningful social supports and addressing legal obstacles and barriers that commonly lead to child protection involvement. Additionally, Hannah will partner with individuals and families impacted by the child protection system to inform policy reform efforts and improve training resources and processes of current and future lawyers.

In my experience working directly with families involved with child protection, I learned that the vast majority of resources and support are targeted toward reactive interventions that often fall short and lead to unnecessary trauma and family separation. I’m honored to have the opportunity to work alongside families and communities to help identify proactive solutions focused on keeping families healthy and together.

Hannah Burton /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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Erica Carroll

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Crisanne Hazen

Host: Legal Advocates for Children and Youth

Sponsor: Greenberg Traurig, LLP

Allison Green

Host: Children's Law Center of DC

Sponsor: Crowell & Moring Foundation