New family court judge giving kids a seat at the table

Deanna Henschel and her husband adopted their four children through the foster care system.

"For five years, I sat in the courtroom as a mother," says Henschel.

Now she’s at the bench.

"This is more than a job for me," says Henschel. "It’s a calling."

As family court judge in McCracken County, Henschel handles many cases involving child abuse and neglect.

While most kids aren’t there for the hearings, there is someone there acting as their voice: a Court Appointed Special Advocate, or CASA.

"Our CASA volunteers not only speak to the child’s needs and whether their needs are bring met but also represent to the court what it is that the child would like to say," says Julie McKeel, program coordinator for CASA. "We often sit second chair. We sit behind everybody else."

"And I have to look around," says Henschel. "Do I have CASA on this case?"

Right now, there are two tables in Henschel’s courtroom; one for the prosecutor and one for the parents, but that’s about to change.

Henschel has ordered a third table specifically for CASA volunteers.

"I know right where to look and they know that their role in the court is appreciated and expected," says Henschel.

Henschel says she hopes to have to new table in her courtroom by mid-January.

CASA is in need of more volunteers.

For more information on how you can get signed up, click here or call (270) 443-1440.

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