CASA Blog

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...

05 Mar

Advocate Spotlight

Peer Coordinator Kathy James Kathy has lived in Montana since she was born. She grew up on a farm near Cascade MT, went to nursing school at St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, and moved to Billings in 1981. She worked as a nurse at St. Vincent Healthcare for 34 years and retired in 2015. Kathy’s first husband Mike Webster was an attorney at the Crowley Law Firm. They raised 4 children together.  He died in 2002. Kathy married Doug James in...

11 Feb

Share the Love This Valentine’s Day

Batman and Robin. Rodgers and Hammerstein. Barack and Michelle. Through the years, there have been couples (romantic and otherwise) who have brought together their unique skills and perspectives to make the world a better place than if they had simply worked alone. So it is with advocacy.  Did you know that Court Appointed Special Advocates can work in pairs to be a voice for the children and youth of our community?  Advocate pairs are most often married couples, but any two...

18 Jan

Come On and Zoom

The Zoom we deserve. (via Giphy) During my undergraduate studies at Penn State, I worked as a research assistant analyzing the temporal and causal links between anxiety and depression. During that time, I had an opportunity to spend a summer at the University of South Florida working on a research project involving the physiological impact of anxiety on young people in the Florida criminal justice system. My responsibilities to the research lab at Penn State did not cease despite my temporary...

31 Dec

So Long, 2020!

I have never been much for celebrating a New Year. I could never muster delight in flipping the calendar from one month of winter to the next. And New Year’s resolutions seem doomed to fail—either they’re too much of a change to be sustainable, or they’re laughably small.  But this year, I will be the first to admit that I am happy to see 2020 receding into the rearview mirror. It has been a year of tough times, and I...

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...