Guest opinion: CASA runs on local gifts of time, money

by | Oct 5, 2016 | CASA Headlines, CASA Updates

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Billings volunteer Diane Jung has given her time over five years to advocate for abused and neglected children. Recently, she decided to do more: Jung made a $30,000 gift to launch an endowment fund for CASA of Yellowstone County.

Jung began volunteering as a court-appointed special advocate with CASA of Yellowstone County in 2011. She has since served as the courtroom advocate for 13 children placed in the state foster care systems due to abuse or neglect. Diane supports the healing of numerous other families in her official volunteer position as the CASA liaison to Yellowstone County Family Drug Treatment Court where parents voluntarily participate in an intensive program to recover from addiction and re-unify with their children.

“Watching several of those children grow and change and be reunited with their parents has been a great source of joy to me,” Jung says.“There are several reasons I chose to volunteer with CASA—first and foremost was its excellent reputation as an organization both locally and nationally.”

 She also believes that every young person deserves a chance to thrive and wanted long-term meaningful contact with young people. CASA training requirements and diverse duties offered Jung the opportunity to learn new skills and connect with others in the community.

CASA of Yellowstone County is on solid financial footing with good operational support coming in from a variety of sources, including a recent, very generous appropriation from the Yellowstone County commissioners. The board and staff were poised to establish an endowment. Those developments fit well into Jung’s desire to do something above and beyond her regular contribution to CASA and she met with her financial adviser to decide how to structure the gift. She hopes her gift will be a catalyst and encourage others to donate, assuring the long-term fiscal health of CASA of Yellowstone County and help for the hundreds of abused and neglected children who have a CASA volunteer working on their case.

“It is inspiring to know that so many people are working hard to ensure that our children can thrive,” Jung says. “I want CASA to secure its financial stability well into the future. A gift of this nature helps that take place. A gift to CASA is a sound investment in the future of our community and our children.”

Diane is a truly inspirational person. As a volunteer and a donor she has positively influenced so many children’s lives, this endowed gift will continue her legacy in the same fashion.

With record-breaking numbers of children in the Yellowstone County foster care system, Jung’s gift comes at a time when CASA of Yellowstone County is focused on recruiting new volunteers and supporters. In the last fiscal year, which ended June 30, there were more than 800 child victims of abuse or neglect in Yellowstone County child protective services. During that time, CASA volunteers served almost 300 kids, leaving more than 500 children without a volunteer on their case.

The incredible increase in the number of foster children in Yellowstone County is creating tremendous stress on the system. Social workers, judges, and attorneys are stretched thin, and are requesting CASA volunteers on cases much faster than we can recruit, train, and assign them.

CASA volunteers complete 30-plus hours of training before being sworn in by a district court judge.

Anyone interested in volunteering should visit the website at to find the dates of upcoming information sessions which give an overview of the CASA volunteer role to interested community members, allowing them to learn more before committing to training.

CASA of Yellowstone County’s endowment fund is held with the Billings Community Foundation, which assists local nonprofits in growing their own resources by offering low fees and low thresholds for establishing accounts. To make a gift to the CASA of Yellowstone County endowment, contact Cass Staton at 259-1233

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Court Appointed Special Advocates are community volunteers who speak up for the best interests of children in foster care. Volunteer CASAs work for the best interests of kids by advocating for their safety and permanency.

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