CASA Blog

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...

10 Sep

Advocate Spotlight – Katie & Levi Gill

Katie & Levi Gill with their two sons, Jude and Caleb Married couple, Katie and Levi Gill became volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocates together in the summer of 2019. Leading up to that time, they both knew they wanted to get involved with a program benefiting kids, and had seen a lot of the advertising around town about CASA. Katie and Levi have a young family of their own, and Levi works out of state seasonally, so they decided to become...

27 Aug

The Guardian: An Interview with Deborah DePietro

I recently spoke with Deborah DePietro about her years as an attorney guardian ad litem for children in foster care. I asked her to share some of her insights as she transitions to retirement and reflects back on her career. Deborah grew up in New York and moved to California for law school, where she attended classes at night while working full time in the insurance and financial industries. After passing the California bar exam—often considered to be the most difficult...

25 Jun

Memory Lane

Wrapping up my fourth year (and going strong!) here at CASA of Yellowstone County, I’ve been thinking a lot lately of one of my own childhood experiences. When I was 15 years old, just finished with driver’s ed and saving up for a car, I got a babysitting gig through Billings Job Service. The family had two young kids and were looking for a babysitter while the parents were at work. I wasn’t used to babysitting kids I didn’t already...

19 Jun

My Father’s Day Thoughts

  Of course around Father’s Day my mind drifts towards thoughts of my dad.  He moved into his heavenly mansion on May 18, 2014.   After a short, but long, five month battle with cancer, the horrid disease took his life.  At this time I had already been pondering volunteer work as a Court Appointed Special Advocate.  This life altering tragedy just spurred me on. As I navigated my own grief as well as the grief of my mother, I realized that...

20 May

The Gen Y Guide to Becoming a CASA

I recently spoke with Marti Liechty and Zach Duhon, two students finishing up their first year of law school at the University of Montana. In addition to their status as law students, Marti and Zach share another common endeavor, which was the subject of our conversation: They both volunteer their time as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) for children in foster care. Marti Liechty & Zach Duhon I wanted to learn more about their motivations, as two young people – and members...

19 May

Advocate Spotlight – Joan Sleeth

Joan Sleeth was always impressed with the positive things she heard about Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) from foster parents and teacher colleagues. After her retirement from teaching, she knew she still wanted to be involved with kids, so in November 2020, she became a CASA herself, feeling that the role would be a good fit. Joan retired from her career as an elementary teacher after 31 years with Billings Public Schools. Joan has her master’s degree in Special Education; she...

07 Apr

A Family Affair

  Jody and Forrest Crowl Meet Jody and Forrest Crowl, both CASAs—Jody with CASA of Yellowstone County and Forrest with CASA of Missoula.  As a mom/son dynamic duo of advocacy, Jody is just one of our Yellowstone County CASAs with a family member who is an advocate with a program elsewhere. Forrest led the way into advocacy.  Having been inspired by one of his law professors, Forrest became a CASA first.  And after hearing about his experience and from a friend who was...

19 Mar

It Takes A Village

  He has been in State custody for 6 of his 11 years.  His life’s timeline looks like this — in State care for 2 years and 5 months/Reunified with his mom for 2 years/Re-entered into State care for 2+ years until the present. His village: 9 school teachers and school counsellors 5 professional therapists 9 attorneys – either county attorneys or public defenders 2 sets of grandparents his mother a non-compliant father his tribe and an Indian Child Welfare Act qualified expert witness one foster family 3 social workers 2 group...

11 Mar

Extremism, Social Media, and Children in Care

In March last year, Neely Blanchard allegedly abducted her twin daughters from the court-ordered care of their grandmother in Kentucky. In letters she sent to the Logan County Sheriff, Blanchard maintained that the authorities had no legal jurisdiction over her. The girls were rescued two days later, when Blanchard was arrested hiding out in a motel in the company of others who shared her legal views. Freed on bond, in November she was arrested again in Georgia after she allegedly...