One of the ongoing projects over the last few months at the CASA office has been, one by one when we find ourselves with a few minutes to spare, converting closed case files to a digital format.  Since our inception in 2003, CASA of Yellowstone County has retained case notes and documents related to cases, no matter how long ago they closed. We recently took the plunge to convert all those old files to a digital format in an effort to save space in the office and, more importantly, to make those old files more easily searchable.

Andrea Piacquadio

I’ve learned something about myself during this process.  One thing, sadly, is that I am far too ready to become frustrated with inanimate objects when they don’t cooperate. We have been putting our office scanner through its paces, and sometimes it gets jammed. So I get grumpy.  But when those pages start flowing as designed and the hypnotic rhythm of scanning sets in, my mind wanders.  I have hit upon some (dare I say) brilliant solutions to various problems while lost in thought at the scanner, and I have been thinking about all these files.  Each of these hundreds of cases represents at least one child who had a highly trained Court Appointed Special Advocate speaking for them in the foster care system.  As the pages have been scanning, I have seen names of attorneys and Advocates who are still serving and those who have passed away.  I have seen names of former CASA coworkers who have gone on to serve their communities in different capacities and earn degrees to make positive changes in the system we work in.

Ivan Samkov

More importantly, I have seen the work of Advocates throughout the years.  I have scanned pictures drawn by CASA kids, pictures that I could never guess what they signify, but that were treasured in the Advocate’s file and now will live on in digital form. I have scanned case notes on the back of grocery lists, envelopes, receipts, and even bank deposit slips.  (Seriously, folks, don’t give us your bank information.)  I have deconstructed whole notebooks filled with handwritten notes for scanning into digital format. I have uploaded school pictures, preschool graduation pictures, and letters from kids and youth to their Advocates.  And I have scanned reports—page after page after page of reports, summaries of the work of every Advocate every month in an effort to be the eyes and ears of the court to help determine the best interests of the foster child.

Pixabay

I think it’s human nature to try to find significance in tedium. Converting all these files to a digital format has been far from intellectually or physically stimulating (except for those moments when I’m trying not to drop the contents of an eight-inch file in the middle of the office), so my mind has gone to the existential.  This work that we do, that Advocates do every day, year after year, has meaning.  Without Advocates, those stories would have gone untold. Judges would have made decisions with far less information about the kids’ wishes. Those drawings would have remained in the minds of the kids instead of on paper, or thrown away with the flotsam of childhood. Because of Advocates, those stories and pictures will remain in perpetuity. Thank you.

            To find out more about advocating for kids and youth in foster care, call the CASA office at (406) 259-1233 or email development director Emily Gaudreau at emily@yellowstonecasa.org.  We promise that when your case closes, we will upload your documents with care.