Florida Project
11 Jun

2018 Academy Awards Touch CASA Sensitivties

Film Review: “The Florida Project” This special movie handles complex social and economic realities with balance and subtlety. It is summer vacation for kids who live in a cheap hotel a few miles from Disney World. There is irony in the disparity of those two worlds that eventually suggests escape. Moonie, the 6 year old main character, leads her friends on many adventures that on the surface appear like kids being kids, but from another perspective, are the result of challenged...

08 Jun

ACEs: A Research Overview

When I was a 25-year-old Peace Corps volunteer teaching English in a Ukrainian public school, I found myself stymied by one of my students.  I don’t recall his name—Andriy or Sergei or Valeriy—but I still recall the day that I finally noticed something was wrong.  The boy who I’ll call Andriy was in sixth grade.  I had taught him for the last half of fifth grade, as well, at which time he was a cheerful kid who paid attention and...

08 Jun

We’re Hiring!

CASA OF YELLOWSTONE COUNTY MISSION: To advocate for a safe and permanent home for abused and neglected children in Yellowstone County. VISION: To provide a highly trained volunteer Advocate for every abused and neglected child in the Yellowstone County court and foster care systems. CORE VALUES: Boldness, Cultural Awareness, Engagement, Professionalism, Teamwork/Collaboration, Transparency PROGRAM COORDINATOR JOB DESCRIPTION SUMMARY: The Program Coordinator provides supervision and support to CASA volunteer Advocates. The Program Coordinator ensures that children involved with CASA receive sound advocacy and early permanency planning. The Program Coordinator is hired by the...

04 Jun

CASA Case Work: The Challenge of the Blind Spot

In an effort to help form good habits for navigating lane changes and turns, some drivers’ education programs use the SMOG acronym (signal, mirror, over-the-shoulder, go). Adapting the SMOG habit may be a helpful model as CASAs interact within the cultural environment of our children and those important to them. Just as in driving, we need to be sure to appreciate what might be in our blind spots. It starts with a “signal”. Our intention is to seek a safe and...

30 May

CASAs and White, Male, and Binary Privileges

In January 2017, four Native Americans from Pryor drove to Reed Point to attend a basketball game.  They reported being denied entry to the game until a group of white Reed Point people were allowed into the school gym.  Although the Montana Human Rights Bureau subsequently found that there was no discrimination, merely a misunderstanding, it’s worth asking why such a story connects with another, more recent one, this time from Colorado. In early May, two young Native American men drove...

Self Care
23 May

Self Care

Self Care The work we do as CASA Advocates can take a toll on our emotional well-being. Working with families and kids who have experienced trauma can lead an Advocate to experiencing compassion fatigue. It is important to dedicate time to ourselves, and address our emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual needs. Here are some ideas for Self Care: Physical Self Care Drink plenty of water. Exercise. Stretch. Get a massage. Dance, swim, walk, run, or do some kind of fun physical activity. Get enough sleep. Take a bubble...

I am for the child with kids
01 May

10 Ways in Which I Am for the Child

In 2011, the National CASA Association launched the I am for the child campaign.  The campaign was designed as a catalyst to strengthen the CASA mission that every abused and neglected child have a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate by their side.  Therein lies my motivation as an advocate when the task seems daunting. 10 Ways in which I am for the child: I am the “one constant” in the child’s life, assisting with all transitions until the child achieves permanency. I fight diligently for the child’s right...

teen brain map
10 Apr

It Takes a Village: A Perspective from Dr. Mariela Herrera

Sadly, statistics confirm a psychiatric admission for a child in the foster care system is far from an unusual occurrence. Mariela Herrera, MD, Medical Director of Youth Inpatient Psychiatric Unit at Billings Clinic, is on the front lines. “A child’s relationship with a parent is crucial to his or her sense of self, trust, and safety. Initial separation from a caregiver can be extremely traumatic to a child, and each subsequent move adds another layer of trauma,” she indicates. “Mental health...

09 Apr

Film Review: HBO’s Addiction

Poster for Addiction (courtesy of IMDB) The HBO documentary Addiction was produced by John Hoffman and Susan Froemke with Executive Producer Sheila Nevins. The documentary has nine segments that focus on case studies, brain imagery research and cutting edge treatments. Research and brain imagery are revealing new information about the effects of addiction and rehabilitation on the brain. Some interesting revelations from the documentary include: Addiction starts between the ages of 18-25 years. (1) Relapse is part of the addiction disorder (2) Addiction is a...

Possibilities within us 1
03 Apr

Why Native Kids Need Warriors

For as long as we’ve existed, CASA of Yellowstone County has struggled to adequately serve the Native American children in our local foster care system. At CASA we believe that all children deserve to have a voice, and that this voice is most effective when it comes from within the child’s culture. Unfortunately, we have never been able to provide every Native American child we serve with a Court Appointed Special Advocate who comes from a similar cultural background. The overrepresentation of...