CASA Blog

20 May

One Constant

  When I signed on the dotted line, little did I know that ” I pledge to serve as the “one constant” for the child, assisting with all transitions until the child receives permanency” would lead me to still advocating for his wishes and well-being six years later. What has not been consistent during his years in foster care: He has changed schools 6 times. His judge has changed. His attorney has changed. His social worker has changed, although his current social worker has been on...

03 May

On Filing Cabinets

            One of the ongoing projects over the last few months at the CASA office has been, one by one when we find ourselves with a few minutes to spare, converting closed case files to a digital format.  Since our inception in 2003, CASA of Yellowstone County has retained case notes and documents related to cases, no matter how long ago they closed. We recently took the plunge to convert all those old files to a digital format in an...

21 Mar

The Importance of Self-Care and Timely Intervention

Last year, I was given a wonderful opportunity to intern at another local non-profit, within the organization’s sober living home. I had never truly had any experience working with people in recovery, and while it was extremely difficult on occasion, it was also equally rewarding. One of the most rewarding and influential aspects of the position was that I lived in the neighborhood alongside those I was working with. Their problems were my problems. Their wins were my wins. The...

16 Mar

CASA Community Night

Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of opening the first-ever CASA Community Night event at the beautiful and historic Babcock Theatre. Our vision to host a community night came out of the understanding that the challenges children face in foster care require community-wide solutions. With close to 800 children in foster care in Yellowstone County alone, you can imagine many of these children experience loneliness and uncertainty in degrees most of us cannot even imagine. And so, on a...

04 Feb

An Engine for Growth: The Peer Coordinator Model at Work

The CASA of Yellowstone County vision is to “provide a highly trained volunteer Advocate for every abused and neglected child in the Yellowstone County court and foster care systems.”  The infrastructure, staff, and training are in place to support advocates for all of the approximately 800 kids in foster care in Yellowstone County today, but there is something else advocates need to be able to speak for those most vulnerable kids—peer coordinators. National CASA requirements allow for no more than 30...

25 Jan

Exit Interview with Myself

I signed up to be a Court Appointed Special Advocate when I was 25 years old. I served on one case, involving two children—a boy and a girl. Except for a period when the children were briefly and unsuccessfully reunified with their parents, I served continuously throughout the children’s time in the foster care system, a journey which concluded with the children’s adoption earlier this month. I am now 31 years old. I spent nearly 20% of my life as the...

04 Jan

CASA Board Member Spotlight – Jennifer Smith

My name is Jennifer Smith, and I have been on the CASA of Yellowstone County Board of Directors for approximately four years. I more or less invited myself to join the CASA board after learning about CASA through my work with Billings Public Schools. I have been an administrator with Billings Public Schools for the last eight years as the Executive Director of Indian Education, English Language Programming, and SOS Signs of Suicide Prevention Programming. Throughout my entire career as...

28 Dec

Best Wishes, Judge Todd!

  Hon. Gregory R. Todd (Larry Mayer Billings Gazette) The Yellowstone County courthouse will look a little different starting in January. The Honorable Gregory R. Todd will be retiring from the 13th Judicial District effective December 31, 2021 after almost 21 years on the bench. Judge Todd began hearing dependency neglect cases immediately upon assuming the bench, but since 2014, Judge Todd has overseen Yellowstone Family Recovery Court (YFRC), an intensive program for some Yellowstone County parents whose kids have been removed...

12 Oct

Book Review: The Deepest Well

One of the most talked about books in the CASA of Yellowstone County office over the past couple of years is The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity by Nadine Burke Harris, M.D. (First Mariner Books, 2018).  This incredibly readable book, a quick 242 pages, describes the author’s journey from treating kids in San Francisco’s poorest neighborhood to speaking nationally about how trauma affects children of every socioeconomic level. Photo Credit: Cottonbro Where We’ve Come From             Burke Harris describes...

10 Sep

Building Powerhouse Habits

You would think that a blog about building habits would be January fare, but here we are, on the tail end of a hot Montana summer, and I’m going to talk about habits.  It seems like this summer has had almost all of the activity that would have happened in 2020 crammed together with usual 2021 summer things, combined handily with ridiculously hot temperatures and a pretty brutal fire season. Coming out of this busy season, many of us are...