Hearts of Yolo: Karen Slinkard

Thursday, Jun 28, 2018

Karen Slinkard first became familiar with the dependency system when one of her children’s friends was taken into custody by Child Protective Services while she was visiting Karen’s daughter at her house. “It’s hard to talk about that experience even today but it made me acutely aware of what some kids go through. Ever since then, I knew I’d help children in the dependency system in some way.”

When Karen’s three children were all grown, she began to look closely into ways she could help. “I considered foster care but I realized that I could never do it because it would be too hard to let go of the children after caring for them. Yolo County CASA, however, seemed to be the perfect fit because I could stay in touch with the children and continue to visit them even after their case ended.”

To date, Karen has been a CASA volunteer for ten years and has had four CASA children. One memory that stands out to Karen is of her youngest CASA child. “He was only two-and-a-half years old. When I went to visit him for the first time, his foster mom said he was hiding and that I’d be lucky to get him out. When I approached him under the table, I just smiled and started taking out the books and toys that I had brought. By the time I was a couple of minutes into reading the first book, he was already in my lap. Even at just two-and-a-half years old, you can teach a child to trust again.”

Another memory that stands out to Karen is when her CASA child moved placements. “When I arrived to visit with him, his foster mom said Child Protective Services was coming to move him. As I looked at his garbage bags packed by the door, I tried to do everything that I could to distract him. As we were playing, he looked at me and said, ‘Will I ever see you again?’ It was the one question I could answer for him. Indeed, he would see me again and with the same frequency.”

Karen describes being a CASA volunteer as a continual learning experience. “Without discussing details, I will just say that the circumstances of my current case are completely different than any other case I’ve had.”

She is also at a pivotal moment with her first CASA child. “We’ve always stayed in touch and she just moved in to stay with me while she attends college. I’m looking forward to this next chapter with her.”

To anyone considering becoming a CASA volunteer, Karen is highly encouraging, “These kids really need an adult who is there unpaid and without agenda to show them that people do care and are in their lives for the long term. It seems like such a simple and basic concept, yet hundreds of children in our county don’t have that.”

For technical questions and comments regarding this website,
please contact the Webmaster.