Friday, Feb 1, 2019
February Advocate of the Month
It is always inspiring to hear about the many ways people find the CASA organization, especially when it is through family, friends, or through their career. Maile Kobayashi, February Advocate of the Month, discovered CASA while in college after meeting a friend who was a CASA Volunteer. Maile began her journey with CASA of Adams & Broomfield Counties as a member of the Investor Relations committee in 2016. After graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder, she decided to commit to the advocacy role and was sworn in 2017.
Although Maile was already familiar with a court setting through her work as an attorney and handling cases involving children, she got to see another side of the child welfare system in her work as a CASA Volunteer. Her first case, which recently wrapped up, involved a 1-year-old girl who had been taken from her parents due to neglect. Throughout the case, the parents were on and off with their involvement and following the necessary steps to regain custody, while the little girl stayed with her grandparents. Over time, the father stopped his involvement altogether while Maile worked with the grandparents as they helped the mother keep up with her visitations.
The mother’s commitment to follow the reunification requirements also dwindled as the case moved on, and that is when Maile truly saw the value of the input she was giving to the case as a CASA Volunteer. While others may have missed the mother’s distancing relationship from the daughter, Maile’s conversations with the child’s mother and grandmother and frequent visits with the child identified a clear picture of the situation. Her detailed account is a testament to why CASAs are so vital in keeping an extra eye on the case and providing the judge information needed.
While the grandparents were huge proponents in trying to support the mother’s efforts with her reunification plan, they realized it was for the best to take the little girl into their care, and did everything to step up and be the constants the little girl needed. Ultimately, the grandparents were granted full custody of the girl who is now 3. Recently Maile was able to see them all at the CASA Holiday party, where she relayed how grateful they seemed to see her flourishing despite the long journey it took to get there.
“This experience has shown me you don’t have to give 40 hours a week to be there for a child: the quality of the work you are doing outweighs the quantity.”
Maile also noted that a refreshing part of being involved in a case as a CASA is the unwavering loyalty one can have for a child in need: “You are here for the child and the child alone, and that is powerful.”
While Maile’s case was closed she anticipates taking a case in the future and will continue giving valuable insight to the program as part of the Investor Relations committee. We cannot express how grateful we are for her for her contribution to the program!