I recently received a jury summons. My first response was gratitude that I’d have the opportunity to participate in our society’s judicial process. As a program coordinator at CASA of Yellowstone County, my second response was mild chagrin to learn that the chosen day was already chock full of appointments with Court Appointed Special Advocates and coworkers. My third response was the hope that said CASAs would understand that this was out of my control and the frantic rescheduling I’d be embarking on would be all for a good cause.
Now, if my life were a movie, that would have been the moment when the soundtrack screeched to a stop and the action hit a freeze frame while the narrator expounded upon my mental thickness. CASAs engage in civic action every day, with every contact they make in an effort to gather information about their CASA kids and their best interests and wishes. Here I was, hoping CASAs would appreciate the fact that I was going to take part in justice itself, when CASAs speak for kids every day before our 13th Judicial Court judges. I was grateful that we live in a country where everyday citizens can sit on a jury of peers and bring common sense and representation by the community to the judicial system, when the voice of the child is missing in plenty of jurisdictions and even one state (I’m looking at you, North Dakota) that don’t have CASA programs. While juries can potentially change a defendant’s life with a guilty or not guilty verdict, CASAs can change a child’s life and future by being the one constant throughout the child’s involvement in the foster care system.
To those of my fellow citizens who have chosen to be the voice for children in our community through CASA advocacy, thank you. Thank you for filling this need and rising to the call of duty. To those who have considered being a CASA but decided it’s not a good fit, thank you. We appreciate your consideration of these kids and that CASA isn’t for everyone, whether because of time or geographic restraints. To those who haven’t considered CASA, please take a moment to think about advocating for kids in the foster system. Could you serve our community by advocating for kids? To find out more, please call 406-259-1233 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Ashley Milsop is a Program Coordinator for CASA of Yellowstone County.