Raquel “Rocky’ Cicini is an Exceptional Student Advocate for Special Education Advocacy Services, LLC, which provides services that bridge relationships between school and home.
How it Works
The first thing Special Education Advocacy Services, LLC request from their clients is that they send their most recent IEP’s, evaluations, report cards, progress reports, and conference notes. This allows them to understand the student’s needs better so the student’s present level in all areas, such as academics, social, emotional, independence, and communication, as well as in their transition IEP, can be evaluated in preparation for any upcoming meetings with school or private providers. Special Education Advocacy Services (SEAS) office also recommends that parents share any updated information with the entire team. Sharing updated information is the first step in getting to know your child and creating a team approach. It is essential to share evaluations and goals with all therapists and teachers. Parents should provide a copy of the IEP to any member of their child’s team outside the school system. The ultimate goal is that everyone working with your child is working on the same goals. The team should put a system in place to keep an open line of communication between school and home. Communication can be done with a home note, a notebook/journal, or email. The SEAS office assists with creating a collaborative and team approach, individualized for each client.
A SEAS advocate will observe your child or attend a parent/teacher conference before attending an IEP meeting or staffing, which is vital to being a productive team member. The more the advocate understands the client’s needs and concerns, the more effective the services are. Observations are scheduled with the school at an agreeable time and day. Student observation allows the advocate to discuss with the school staff what questions or concerns they may have. Students never know an advocate is observing, as they do not interact with the student. Observations or conferences assist the team in determining if additional ESE services or eligibilities should be considered if other accommodations need to be added to an IEP or 504 plan, and if the goals are appropriate.
An advocate attends Annual or Interim IEPs, RTI, Staffing & 504 plans. Advocates participate in the meetings with their clients either in person or virtually. They prepare the clients for what is expected and provide support during the meeting. They ensure that appropriate goals and supplemental services are in place and that the documents are in compliance. The support helps families learn more about the IEP process and gives them a complete peace of mind knowing an advocate is there for their child and the team.
Parents need to assist the advocate with this by updating and checking in with them during the school year. If parents do not make the advocate aware of any concerns that may be occurring, the schools do not always relay the information. Since advocates frequent many of the same schools, they happily follow up on any concerns. SEAS ask that parents send progress reports and report cards as they receive them or contact the advocate should they have questions or concerns.
Early Steps/Preschool Transitions
Advocates assist with the transition process from Early Steps/Part C to County Preschool services. They prepare clients and help them better understand the transition so educated decisions can be made for the child. School districts offer several services and placement options. Advocates are here to understand the needs better and ensure that the recommended services are appropriate for the child.
SEAS believes it takes a team, and early intervention is vital to a more successful start in this process. Advocates review all services and therapist plans to ensure progress continues in the new recommended setting. They are also readily available during regular business hours to answer any questions or address any concerns that may come up during the process.
For additional information about the services and supports, please visit the website at: https://www.yselaheim.com/