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Advocate Impact - Heidi Gildersleeve

Children like Albert 11, Elsa, 6, Tony 5, Chris 3, Quin 2 and Anna 6 months rely to a large extent on Advocates like Heidi Gildersleeve to speak on their behalf and protect their rights. The six children came into care after being left alone and Albert having to watch his siblings. The children would often be playing outside, without supervision, in the busy street and cars would be honking at them. In addition, their Mother had a history of an inability to demonstrate protective capacity. Heidi signed onto this six child case a year ago knowing that it would be a challenge. These children needed an advocated because they could not look after their own interests.

Heidi began the case with the children being in two separate placements St. Pj’s and Boysville. Shortly after Albert was admitted to Laurel Ridge for making homicidal threats. Heidi went to visit Albert while he was placed at Laurel Ridge to advocate for his therapeutic wellbeing. From the beginning of the case to date, he continues to have behavior management problems and needs redirection. Heidi has advocated for Albert to receive a mentor and for his individual therapy to be increased so he can address his anger management issues.

Heidi, also, advocates for the children’s education because she believes in them, and believes they deserve a high-quality education. She cares about their future and wants to improve wherever she can. Heidi has attended school meetings and Admission Review and Dismissal (ARD) meetings for the children to make sure that their educational needs are being meet. With Albert being on a Behavior Intervention Plan it has been important for Heidi to follow up with his teachers to make sure that he is doing well. Heidi has had open communication with Albert so he can own his behavior and learn from it. It has been key to him growing and trusting Heidi.

Heidi’s frequent interactions with the children and visits to their placements allows her to be aware of how they are doing.  When there have been indications that a placement may not be meeting the children’s needs Heidi has been the first to inform the caseworker as well as the children’s attorney. Without Heidi, these children would be relatively powerless. The importance of being a voice for the children was demonstrated during an incident while Tony and Chris were in an inattentive placement. Tony was being scratched by another child and nothing was being done. As a result, he has scaring on his neck.

The children have been separated into four different placements, as far as Austin. Heidi has ensured that the children maintain sibling visits. Additionally, Heidi would attended many parent/child visits at the CPS Offices and was the first to praise the parents on their positive interactions with the children. Heidi continues to visit the children in each of their placements and advocate for their needs. Their mother reaches out to Heidi on occasion for support and advice. Thank you Heidi for being a powerful voice and advocate for these children.

Advocate Impact - Heidi Gildersleeve