CASA Blog

14 Nov

Childhood Trauma & Public Health

Court Appointed Special Advocates know that childhood trauma affects adult life. During CASA training we complete the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) questionnaire, which measures a person’s risk for adverse adult experiences connected to childhood trauma. The seminal research which informs this questionnaire was conducted in 1995-97, in cooperation between the Centers for Disease Control and the Kaiser Permanente HMO in Southern California. Broadly speaking, the research confirmed what common sense had long suspected. Multiple lasting adult impacts can be traced to...

04 Nov

Make a Difference This Holiday Season

With the holidays approaching, right now there are over 800 children in Yellowstone County foster care. Those 800 children will be spending their Thanksgiving, their Christmas, and their snow days in a home that is not theirs. In addition to whatever circumstances preceded their entry into foster care, the trauma of being removed from everything that is familiar to them and growing up in a world of inconsistency and turmoil can lead to lifelong struggles for many of these children....

23 Oct

When Your Case is Closed

Dear Advocate, At the closing of your case, I hope you can look back on these past 18 months with a feeling of accomplishment. Know that your advocacy made a difference in the life of a child. I’m sure there were ups and downs along the way. Now is the time to take all that you have learned and plan for your next step with CASA of Yellowstone County. To help you evaluate your experience thus far, you will be invited to...

17 Oct

Holidays in Foster Care

For some, the holidays of autumn and winter are a time for nostalgic reflection on past holidays with loved ones. For others, those memories are fraught with grief and mixed emotions. Foster care, and even kinship care, can be a challenging backdrop for the kids served by our Court Appointed Special Advocates. Even if most of the holidays they remember were pleasant affairs, they are now thrust into a world that is different from the one they have lived in. Navigating...

08 Oct

Car Safety and Children

Many people may be surprised to learn that the leading cause of death for children in the United States is motor vehicle crashes. Car accidents cause 1 of every 4 unintentional deaths for children in the United States. According to the CDC, 675 children under 12 were killed as occupants in motor vehicle crashes in 2017. Of the 675 that were killed, 35% were not buckled up. Although seat belts and child safety seats are still relatively new technology...

25 Sep

The Minimum Sufficient Level of Care

Since embracing my role as a Court Appointed Special Advocate in May of 2015, I have spent much time pondering the concept of a minimum sufficient level of care (MSLC). This is a standard used in our child welfare system that attempts to protect our families from individual biases and value judgments. It is a “yard stick” used to measure when a child should be removed or reunited with his or her parents. The State must ensure the MSLC is...

13 Sep

A Safe and Permanent Om

I’ve been doing a lot of airline travel this summer. Even when crossing just a couple of time zones, I find it difficult to get to sleep when trying to adjust to the time change. 10pm in Philadelphia is only 8pm in Billings, which is much earlier than when my brain would ordinarily be ready to sleep. And this adjustment is a minimal one compared to the jet lag I experienced following a couple of transatlantic flights. During these instances of...

29 Aug

Mythbusters: CASA of Yellowstone County Edition

Pixabay “Oh, so you’re a CASA?  So that means….” And so often begins a conversation in which I have the privilege of blowing away all kinds of myths about what we do here at CASA of Yellowstone County. Even though different CASA programs across the country vary bit by bit, there are still a lot of misconceptions in our community about just what CASA of Yellowstone County does! Here are some of the myths I’ve come across and the facts I’ve been...

13 Aug

“Quick, Tell Me About CASA”: Polishing Your Elevator Speech

The work of CASA of Yellowstone County is filling an urgent need in our community by advocating for the most vulnerable among us: abused and neglected children. As a Court Appointed Special Advocate, Peer Coordinator, Staff or Friend of CASA, how do you spread the word about our work? Do you have an elevator pitch that you use to introduce CASA to outsiders and entice them to learn more? If not, now’s your time to refine your ambassador skills! What is...

05 Aug

New Normals

“Children are great imitators. So give them something great to imitate.” -Unknown. Humans are amazing beings. We learn languages, social interactions and behaviors within a matter of years as young children, and those learned behaviors continue to form the way we grow and learn for the rest of our lives. But when dangerous and destructive influences are present in the lives of children from the very beginning of their existence, these are the habits and lessons that are...