Photo of Leila Blatt

Leila Blatt

  • Hosted by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc.
  • Sponsored by Greenberg Traurig, LLP, Texas Access to Justice Foundation
  • Service location Austin, Texas
  • Law school Yale Law School
  • Issue area Family Law, Racial Justice
  • Fellowship class year 2021
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Leila (she/her/hers) will defend low-income Black families in the greater Austin area against aggressive child protective services interventions through direct representation, relationship building, and community education.

Our child welfare system surveils, punishes, and separates Black and Brown families living in poverty. Often, children of color are taken from their homes, their parents, their siblings, and their communities because poverty is confused with neglect. The intersecting violence of structural racism, poverty, and family separation is especially dire for Black communities in Austin. Texas terminates the rights of more parents than any other state. In Texas’s most seemingly progressive city, the child welfare system overwhelmingly targets Black families. Black children in Austin are nearly eight times more likely to be forcibly removed from home than their white peers. Parents and caregivers are left to navigate child protection investigations and services under the threat of a petition for removal and termination of parental rights without access to counsel.

Lessons from Black women in Leila’s young world, stories from clients she’s worked alongside, and guidance from incredible mentors inspire her lifelong commitment to supporting Black communities.

Fellowship Plans

Drawing on her experience in family defense, criminal sentencing mitigation, and anti-racist facilitation, Leila will prevent unnecessary family separation for vulnerable Black communities in the greater Austin area. She will provide direct representation to parents and caregivers before a petition for removal and parental rights termination has been filed. Additionally, she will collaborate with local partners to build community trust and host Know-Your-Rights meetings to share knowledge and collectivize advocacy strategies.

Media

2021 Greenberg Traurig Equal Justice Works Law Fellows to Tackle Racial, Economic, and Social Justice Issues

In disrupting the everyday devastations happening in child protection offices, I honor the power and vulnerability of the Black women that made me.

Leila Blatt /
2021 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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