Bendelon is a natural advocate for children. Her career as a teacher and social worker in the schools prepared her well for her role as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA).
“I saw how many of foster children’s issues weren’t being addressed, mostly because the case workers have so much on their plates,” says CASA Bendelon. “Some of the children suffered from low self esteem and may have trouble reaching their full potential.”
Being a CASA has been a way of Bendelon continuing her lifelong work of helping children. Her first case was very gratifying because the child, who was given up at birth, was adopted by his foster parents. The child wouldn’t endure what so many others in the system do – being shifted from one situation to the next. “I was happy he ended up with the only ‘parents’ he had known since birth. That was a positive outcome,” says CASA Bendelon.
Her most recent case involves three children from the same family. They are all on track to be adopted by their foster families. She is working with the families so that the children get to see each other even though the two youngest are with one family and the oldest is living with another.
CASA Bendelon went to the school of the thirteen year-old boy, “I told him I was his advocate. I was here for him,” she says. “He really opened up to me and asked me tough questions about his birth mother. I told him she loved him enough to give him a chance with his prospective adoptive parents.” The boy was really self aware and showed appreciation for the foster parents, who are in the process of adopting him. CASA Bendelon shared with him that “where you start doesn’t have to be where you end.” She is confident he has a chance for a better life.
“I am a people person. It helps me since CASA’s have to talk to many people in advocating for the children,” CASA Bendelon says. She thinks being committed to the well being of the children first and foremost is paramount and sometimes that means being assertive, too. Echoing a CASA theme, she says, “I am here for the child.”
Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for Children’s mission to speak on behalf of abused and neglected children is central to fulfilling society’s most fundamental obligation to protect a child’s right to be safe, treated with respect and to help them reach their fullest potential. For more information about CASA, visit AtlanticCapeCASA.org.