Jill has more than 22 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.
Jill received her undergraduate degree from Syracuse University in Child and Family Studies and Psychology, and her Masters in Social Work from New York University. She spent ten years as a school social worker, and her earlier years as a case manager in social services agencies. Jill has also advocated for children in foster care as an Educational Surrogate Parent through the CT State Department of Education. Over the last 8+ years, Jill has diligently worked as a Special Education Advocate , providing her with a wealth of knowledge and experience to serve families and their children.
Jill is a member of the Council of Parent Advocates and Attorneys (COPAA), as well as the Connecticut Association of Children and Adults with Learning Disabilities (CACLD). She has previously served on the volunteer/ professional committees for the Stamford Public Schools of Middle School Advisory Council and the School Governance Council. 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.
Jill 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.
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.