CASA Blog

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...

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...

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,...