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2016 Year in Review

2016 was a busy year for CASA of Lewis & Clark and Broadwater Counties.  19 new fantastic advocates were trained and sworn in during spring and fall orientation classes. CASA now has 55 active advocates working on behalf of our local children in Lewis & Clark and Broadwater Counties.  In 2016 there were 108 new cases, down only slightly from the year before. Advocates served 258 children, giving over 3,500 hours of their time.

Ongoing learning is essential to supporting our advocates.  We held several in-service trainings throughout the year on topics such as drug information, physical abuse, and ICWA law. Partners like the Child Advocacy Center provided training on sexual abuse and more. We sent several advocates to the CAN (Child Abuse and Neglect) and Childwise Conferences.

We hosted advocate meetings for our CASAs on the third Wednesday and Thursday of each month. The purpose of these gatherings is to give active advocates a place to build relationships, discuss their case issues, successes, and ask questions.

CASA program staff worked with a planning committee to form the new Family Drug Court.  The Lewis and Clark County First Judicial District Family Drug Court (FJDFDC) was developed to restructure judicial participation in DPHHS-CFS abuse and neglect cases involving chemically dependent parents or guardians. All agencies involved concur that a more efficient, structured, balanced and centralized system must be developed to meet the needs of minors residing in homes where substance abuse disorders have necessitated DPHHS-CFS intervention. The purpose of the initiative is to direct parents seeking reunification into a comprehensive program of alcohol and other drug abuse treatment and related ancillary services. Learn more.
In 2016, 44 "Mybags" were stuffed by Friends of CASA volunteers and delivered to CPS for children who were removed from the home with little to no belongings.

MyBag items include:
* Dental kits
* Diapers
* Socks
* Waterbottles/sippy cups/bottles
* Hairbrushes and combs
* Pajamas and comfy blankets.
In the early fall, CASA board and staff held a farewell party and open house for retiring Executive Director Dennis Molnar. In November, staff members Pam Young and Kendra Proue transitioned into their new roles as Co-Executive Directors.  Cathy Ballew was promoted to Program Administrator, and has proven to be an incredible asset to the advocates.  

Thanks to our incredible partnerships in the community CASA held several successful local fundraisers including; the 5th Annual Light of Hope Banquet, Chevrolet of Helena Car Raffle and Brew a Better Community Night at Ten Mile Creek Brewery.  We also want to thank our neighbor and partner United Way of the Lewis & Clark Area for supporting our work financially as well as helping to promote CASA through their outreach.  To view a recent interview click HERE.

Thank you to everyone who volunteered, donated, or supported CASA in any way in 2016. Together we are giving children a voice!

CASA Advocate Spotlight- Dianne Kuehn

What brought you to CASA?
Nine years ago, I moved to Helena from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to join two of my children, and now three grandchildren! I am an inactive Wisconsin attorney, who practiced with a special interest in the issue of children in the law.  I often served as guardian ad litem/attorney in custody and placement disputes in Milwaukee’s Family Court system.  CASA seemed the perfect volunteer opportunity. 
What has been your most rewarding experience?
I served as a CASA in a case in which a teen girl was “disowned” by both parents when she disclosed past abuse.  She found a wonderful foster placement home, where she was supported and encouraged to believe she could achieve, overcome her history, and succeed.  She is now in college!
Your most challenging?
It has been difficult to witness the rapid increase in young parents’ serious addictions, particularly to meth, and the growing number of young children that are impacted.  With lack of facility space and foster placements, one can become disheartened.  In one of my cases, after the mother received long-term rehab care and parenting support with her children in a program facility, she relapsed and the children were removed again.  Unfortunately, I have not seen many parental success stories when they involve addiction.
What do you want people to know about CASA?
If you can make a difference on one day, in one child’s life, you will feel it.  Make them smile or laugh, let them know you care, and believe in them. We ALL need to care about these children.

Appreciation Luncheon

January 27th CASA Board and Staff hosted the annual Appreciation Luncheon at Lewis & Clark Library. It was a wonderful event and a great opportunity for us to thank our CASA Advocates and those who partner with us every day to serve children who have experienced abuse and neglect.

CAN Conference- Save the Date

The Child Abuse and Neglect Conference (CAN) will be held in Helena April 25th, 26th and 27th at the Radisson Colonial Hotel in Helena.  CASAs: This is a good opportunity to get required in-service hours! Click HERE to view the conference brochure and registration information.

NEW Montana CASA/GAL Association

With support from the National CASA Association a new state CASA Association is up and running. The new board of directors is excited to announce the position opening for an Executive Director. This position, along with the Montana CASA/GAL Board of Directors, is responsible for developing and managing the CASA/GAL state organization. The Executive Director receives direction and guidance from Montana CASA/GAL Board of Directors and works collaboratively with local CASA/GAL program directors to identify and plan for the needs of the organization and Montana CASA/GAL programs. View the full position description HERE.

6th Annual Light of Hope

We are busy gearing up for the 6th Annual Light of Hope Banquet.  Save the date for April 7th at the Radisson Colonial Hotel.  
 "Kentucky Derby: Bet on CASA!"
Wear your fanciest hat and prepare to enjoy a wonderful evening with a gourmet dinner, live and silent auctions, and more!

5:30 p.m.   
Hors d’oeuvres, Cocktail Hour
and Silent Auction
7:30 p.m.    
Dinner, Award Presentation, Best Hat Contest
and Live Auction
Purchase Tickets

Light of Hope Raffle

Become a sustaining donor; join Voices for Kids today!

Making a monthly pledge is an easy way to support CASA Advocates working on behalf of local children involved in dependent neglect cases. Start with just $10 a month! Regardless of how much you can spare, our monthly giving program allows you to make a powerful and long-lasting impact in our community. Since your recurring contributions add up over time, you help provide weeks, months and years of important assistance and resources to the incredible children we serve. 
Learn more and sign up!

Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies- The Montana Coalition

The mission of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is to provide volunteer guardians to work on behalf of abused and neglected children to promote their best interests in the pursuit of safe, permanent homes.
Copyright © 2017 CASA of Lewis & Clark and Broadwater Counties, All rights reserved.

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