OMAHA, Neb. — The Douglas County Juvenile Courtrooms looked a little different today. Decorations and laughter filled the courtrooms. The warm smiles are all thanks to the annual Kids and Judges Day event in Omaha.
"This is probably one of the best days for us because it's an opportunity to actually engage with these kids outside of a court setting," Judge Chad Brown from the Douglas County Juvenile Court said.
The experience for the children is extremely personal.
"Some of these kids are on my caseload, under the child welfare system," Judge Brown said.
Kids had the chance to meet their judges outside of what could be an intimidating court room setting. They got to play games and familiarize themselves with the men and women in charge.
The event is hosted in part by CASA for Douglas County. "CASA" stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate - people trained to help kids through the court system.
Terri Summerlim is a CASA volunteer. For the past two years she has spent her time with a foster child named Dylan.
"It's a really tough time in their life, they need somebody to walk them through it," Summerlim said.
Little Dylan means a lot to Terri.
"He's a great kiddo. We love to get ice-cream. He loves games so we got to Chuck-E-Cheese or Dave and Busters. But sometimes we just sit in an ice-cream shop for 45 minutes and he tells me things that he's struggling with. Most of the time he just tells me I'm doing okay, I'm alright, I'm fine," she said.
"It's a chance for them to be a kid. It's a chance for us to take the robe off and interact with them in their environment," Judge Brown said.