CASA Blog

15 Sep

A CASA Love Story

Being a CASA is hard, taxing work—sometimes physically, almost always mentally and emotionally. I have personally worked three separate cases over the last five years. Each case is unique with challenges, disappointments, rewards, and successes. As a peer coordinator, I have overseen multiple other cases and walked alongside fellow Court Appointed Special Advocates as they maneuver their case load. Each and every case has unexpected twists, turns, and outcomes, but none are of any more value than another. It is...

12 Sep

A time to keep silent, and a time to speak

The COVID-19 pandemic has left many reeling as livelihoods, schedules and institutions have been turned upside down. This is nothing new for children in foster care.  Already at greater risk than their peers to not graduate high school, these young people in the system now have less consistency in their education than ever before. The important visits they count on with siblings and family have at times been suspended, further isolating them from what they know and love. And remember,...

12 Aug

Online Safety in a Time of Distancing

Yellowstone County continues to grapple with the coronavirus, and we have entered the dog days of summer. Some kids and teens love this time of year and all the sunshine and Vitamin D they can get! On the other hand, some of your CASA youth may be spending more time than ever indoors, with the modern conveniences of air conditioning and the internet. It’s important for Court Appointed Special Advocates and adults in any young person’s life to know the dangers...

15 Jul

Growing Native Wellness: An Interview with Debbie Desjarlais

Debbie Desjarlais describes herself as a Native American graphic designer. Based in Billings, she is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, and an Assiniboine descendent. Growing up, Debbie spent her early years in Billings and on the Fort Peck Reservation. She has degrees in business finance from Montana State University, and visual arts and graphic design from South Dakota State University. Back in April, you may have caught an article in the Billings Gazette...

04 Jul

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

As we approach this Fourth of July holiday, I have been reflecting on our nation’s founding principles, namely the ideal that each person has the “unalienable right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” The sad reality is that for children in abusive or neglectful situations, the ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness may seem unimaginable and unattainable. I think of children who are not having their most basic needs met in their homes, children who...

25 Jun

The Art of Dialogue

I have a confession to make. I am a word nerd. I geek out over origins, evolving uses, and nuances of language. I have been known to overthink a word choice, as could probably be attested by my fellow CASA staff and even some Court Appointed Special Advocates. The word that’s been getting my attention lately is dialogue. I remember hearing on a public radio show some time ago that there is a common misperception that monologue means one person talking...

09 Jun

Public Transportation and Child Welfare

Photo by City of Billings MET Transit Transportation is something that the average American utilizes daily to get to work, school, the grocery store, to run errands–we employ some form of transportation all the time without even thinking about it. Montana, particularly the city of Billings, faces unique challenges when it comes to public transportation. Billings, which was never designed to be a walking city, has become increasingly suburbanized and spread out in recent years, making it even more difficult to...

30 Apr

How to Make a Difference for Kids Right Now

First, I’ll get the easy one out of the way. If you want to make a difference for a child in foster care – not just right now, but for a lifetime – consider becoming a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate. You can learn more about what this entails by going to the Volunteer button above, or clicking here. You can also read about the true stories of their impact in Yellowstone County by accessing our Stories page up...

21 Apr

Vulnerability and Advocacy

I’ve been thinking a lot about vulnerability lately. It’s a term I often hear thrown around: “That population is vulnerable to infection and illness.” “After the trauma of removal, it takes a lot for a child to get vulnerable with others again.” Or, when playing board games, “That city is vulnerable to attack.” Julia M Cameron Vulnerability can seem like a liability. If I am vulnerable, I am exposed to external pressures and may become injured. I could experience pain—sometimes physical pain, but often even...

16 Apr

How to…Advocate for Children from a Different Religious Background

Imagine that you are a six-year-old sitting at a dinner table with a family you just met. Unfamiliar faces and voices swirl around you in a confusing mix. You don’t understand why you’ve been brought to this home by strangers. Where are your parents and what did you do wrong that they gave you away to another family? The lady who told you she’s your foster mom puts a plate in front of you and tells you that it’s pork...