Over the last 20 years, the special education system has become increasingly difficult to understand and maneuver through for parents. Families need expert and informed support in order to ask the right questions and advocate for their children with special learning needs. CT Education Advocacy, LLC, founded August 2016, was created in order to facilitate the process for parents to better support their children.
Knowledge is power, and Jill Chuckas, MSW, Special Education Advocate, and her team will work with families to advocate and better understand what can be done to support their child's unique learning needs. From first diagnosis of eligibility for special education services, through development of an individualized education program (IEP) or 504 accommodation plan, to ongoing follow-through to ensure the IEP is being implemented, your CTEA team member will be there every step of the way, to help determine next steps from where ever the family is in the special education process.
Our advocates are seen as a collaborative and dedicated member sof the team and works hard to have a strong, positive outcome for each child. We support parents of children diagnosed with various special learning needs including: autism spectrum disorders; specific learning disabilities including dyslexia, executive functioning struggles, speech and language, and developmental disabilities; ADD/ADHD; and emotional challenges such as school phobia and anxiety; to work with their school districts to ensure that appropriate educational and support services are in place to meet their particular special needs.
CTEA has delivered presentations to groups throughout Fairfield County on various topics surrounding special education and has been asked by school district groups to share feedback and concern regarding their districts special education programs. Professional development occurs regularly as Jill understands that to actively serve the families she works with, she must remain current with changes in special education law, practice and service delivery.
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Jill Chuckas, MSW
Ms. Chuckas has more than 25 years’ experience advocating for children. In her various positions, she has been intricately involved in the special education process - leading PPT meetings, implementing and writing IEPs, coordinating services for children and families, facilitating conflict management, and supporting teachers and families to provide corrective, social emotional learning environments for children. It has always been important to Jill to be meticulous, detailed and organized in her process to review, discuss and support her families in every role that she holds. She is seen as a collaborative and dedicated member of the team and works hard to have a strong, positive outcome for each child. I
Jill graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelors in Science in Psychology and Children and Families Studies in May of 1991 and from New York University with a Masters in Social Work in May of 1995. Throughout her many years working with children and families, she has held positions in public social service agencies, 10 years as a school social worker, an educational surrogate parent for the State Department of Education supporting children in DCF care and as a special education advocate. On a broader advocacy platform, Jill has experience advocating for small business owners at the federal level as a founding member of a non-profit alliance of small business owners, lobbying on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, working with a regulatory agency, testifying before the U.S. Senate and collaborating on a legislative amendment.
She is a proud parent to 3 children - Alexander, Nicholas and Hannah. All wonderful and promising in their own ways. She is the daughter of 2 teachers - her father taught 5th and 6th grade for 38 years, and her mother was a special education teacher for over 20 years. And, both of her grandmothers were teachers - one a kindergarten teacher, and one who taught everything from the little red school house to adults with developmental disabilities. To say that advocacy for children and families is in her blood is an understatement.
Virginia is excited to join CT Education Advocacy, LLC as a Special Education Advocate after having completed the SEAT 2.0 training course sponsored by the Council of Parents, Advocates, and Attorneys (COPAA) in 2017-2018. SEAT 2.0 is the only nationally developed and recognized year-long special education advocacy training course, and it provides participants with training to become special education advocates via a live virtual classroom, complemented by self-paced web learning, readings, and group and individual assignments. As a final requirement for the course, participants must accumulate at least 40 hours of practical experience working with an established advocate, which Virginia completed under Jill Chuckas in the Fall of 2018. For Virginia’s training, this included sitting side by side with Jill at various PPT meetings, initial consultations, PPT prep meetings and culminating in working with a family pro bono, under Jill’s direct supervision, from initial consult, through record review, attendance at PPT and IEP review after the meeting. The family was so happy with Virginia’s dedication and expertise that they immediately signed on as Virginia’s first official advocacy case with CTEA!
Virginia’s desire to work as an advocate arose from her experiences with having to navigate the special education process for her own daughter, who was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder in 2005, at age three. By attending countless PPT meetings and actively advocating as a parent, Virginia gained the skills and experience needed to understand the special education process and qualify for her SEAT 2.0 training. She also developed the empathy needed to truly connect with families and support their complex needs when they are attempting to navigate the complicated educational system for their own child.
Virginia received her Bachelor of Science in Commerce from the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia in 1995, working for several years as a Certified Public Accountant prior to the birth of her two daughters. She is a member of COPAA. Virginia also serves as the Volunteer Coordinator for Abilis, a non-profit organization that provides services and support for special needs individuals in lower Fairfield County.
- IEP/504 Implementation Verification
- Development of Strategic Plans
- Parent Coaching
- Assistance Drafting School Communications
- Private SPED School Placement Consulting
- Transition planning for college or other post secondary options
- Referrals for Diagnostic/Treatment Services
Complete Educational File Review
Analysis & Assessments of:
~Individualized Education Programs (IEP)
~Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSP)
~Section 504 Plans (ADA)
IEP Development Assistance, especially w/ Measurable Goals/Objectives
- Direct Advocacy at PPT, 504 and Team Meetings
- Consultations with Treating Professionals
- Support for Negotiation w/ School Districts
Scope of Services
Testimonials from CTEA Clients
"Jill Chuckas is the force of nature my husband and I needed to help us procure services for our son. We had started with a different advocate, but because she didn't have an educational background, she didn't know the right things to ask for. Jill is extremely skilled and knowledgeable as well as a pleasure to work with. She is the perfect combination of forceful yet diplomatic. We are so happy we found her!!"
GK - Trumbull
"After struggling to get our school district to acknowledge my daughter’s learning disabilities and provide appropriate services on my own I was given Jill Chuckas’s name by a tutor we previously worked with. Not until I worked with Jill did I realize how much I didn’t know about the process and my rights. Jill opened up doors for my daughter by knowing exactly the right questions to ask and specifically how to ask the questions. Jill speaks the same language as teachers and school districts and can translate my daughter’s needs and requests in a way that the district can not ignore. Jill was monumental in getting the district to provide the services specific to my daughter’s needs and putting my daughter on a path to success and quick results. I never could have accomplished that myself. I feel extremely lucky to have Jill on my side advocating for my daughter."
RB, Easton, CT
"Jill has been instrumental in helping us to get additional support for our daughter in the public school setting. After several years struggling with not getting any results and not knowing what was available to us, we reached out to Jill. Jill is top notch; personable and really knows what's right, whats wrong, and what is available. She spent a great deal of time going over our history and coming up with a plan for the future. She sat through numerous meetings, took incredible documentation, asked all the right questions. Always with confidence and compassion. I would highly recommend Jill to any parent who is struggling with this journey."
SD, Darien, CT
"Dear Jill, We cannot thank you enough for all you’ve done for our children and their education in the years you’ve been working with us. Not only have you helped us to make certain that their IEPs are appropriate and complete, but you also continue to bring to the table tools and strategies that their teams can use in implementing their goals/objectives. You’ve taught us so much and as a result, we have a better understanding of the special education system. This knowledge helps us, with you and your support, to better advocate for our children. It was so important to us that we find an advocate who would work with us and still maintain the professional and respectful relationships we have with our children’s teams. We found that person in you! A number of team members have shared their appreciation of your talents and demeanor after they’ve sat in a meeting with us. “I thought Jill was very impressive.” and “Your advocate was awesome and an absolute pleasure to work with.” are just two direct quotes from school staff. We hope that you realize what a positive difference you’ve made in our lives. We look forward to working with you for many years to come as our children continue to grow and thrive. Please know that not only are you a member of our teams, but we also consider you a part of our family. We are so fortunate to have you on our side!