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Our Impact

Karen Skillicorn

Karen, a fourth-generation Watsonville resident and a RN at Watsonville Community Hospital, has seen first-hand how many families desperately need the resources that will help them and, as Karen said, “get that one step ahead, so they can keep moving forward.”  After going through Advocate training, Karen initially thought she would choose to work with a pre-teen girl.  But when she read 4-year old “Tony’s” file, she knew he was for her. Tony was still at home with his mom (a case known as Family Maintenance), but Karen quickly realized she needed to communicate clearly with mom about her role as Tony’s CASA.  “Initially, mom thought I was there to provide her time off or daycare.  I explained that I was there, first and foremost, to make sure Tony’s needs were being met.”  Karen watched the interaction between Tony and his mom.  “Once I was able to understand Tony and his mom’s dynamics, I could help connect mom to helpful resources.” When Tony’s mom relapsed with her substance abuse recovery, Tony was placed with a foster family.  Karen stayed with him throughout this process.  “Tony had a hard time with all the changes,” Karen said.  “While keeping him my number one priority, it was clear that if I didn’t also support mom in what she needed, she couldn’t provide Tony with what he needed.”  Karen connected the family with the appropriate mental health services, and helped enroll him with a former daycare center that offered him safety and familiarity in an ever changing world.  She also helped Tony branch out with social activities like Itty-Bitty soccer and basketball camps. Karen said, “One thing I learned in my CASA training was that how I raised my children may have been right for me, but it doesn’t mean that it’s right for everyone.  Everyone has a different style for raising their children, but everyone’s end goal is the same, we just have different ways of getting there.  We want our children to be healthy, well-adjusted and happy.” When asked what her dreams are for Tony now that he’s home with his mom, Karen said, “I want Tony to thrive.  He has his mother’s heart – a heart of gold – and I want him to have a life with a mother who is nurturing.  I want Tony to learn, engage, and have a full and happy life.”