CASA Blog

28 Jul

The CASA Model: Past, Present…and Future?

[Author’s Note: This blog post was adapted from a paper submitted for a course on juvenile justice at the Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana.] The roots of the CASA model date back to 1974 with the passage of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, in which Congress mandated that children in dependency proceedings—i.e., those initiated in response to the abuse or neglect of a child—must be provided with an attorney or trained volunteer...

19 Jul

The Struggle Is Real

July 2022 marks my fifth anniversary of working with CASA of Yellowstone County.  While that’s nowhere near the dedication of some of our advocates who have been serving kids since before I even heard of CASA (I’m looking at you, 10-year CASA veterans!), it is truly an honor to support advocates who volunteer their time, energy, and heart to serve the kids in our community who need them most. Jess Bailey That being said, five years of any endeavor will include peaks...

08 Jul

What I Wish You Could Have Heard: My Take Aways from the National CASA Conference 2022

In June, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the National CASA Conference, in Seattle, WA. It was invigorating to be around so many people from across the nation that all had the same mission; being the Voice of Children. Two of the sessions I attended were of note and I wanted to share what I heard and wish all advocates, and those that support advocacy could have heard. The first session was From the Bench; a panel of...

20 Jun

Advocate Spotlight – Bob Brown

Bob Brown joined CASA of Yellowstone County as a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate in 2017 after learning of the urgent need for more volunteers to advocate on behalf of at-risk children in the foster care system. Thus far, he has limited his CASA advocacy to very young children.  Bob currently has two separate cases, one with a three-year-old boy in kinship care (placed with family members), and another case with a newborn infant in foster care. Bob grew up in...

07 Jun

On Relationships

For those of you who are not familiar with CASA, it may surprise you to learn that some of our staff members volunteer their time away from work and become Court Appointed Special Advocates for a child or a group of siblings in foster care. There are strict parameters for staff who volunteer as Advocates, to make sure we are not posing any kind of conflict of interest in the case. But that is not what I want to talk...

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...