FAQ

WHAT DOES AN ADVOCATE DO?
Advocates vary, but my services include attending school meetings, reviewing records to help families develop an action plan, providing individual parent coaching (sometimes just working "behind the scenes"), assisting with writing agendas and letters, observing the student at school and home, providing referrals to other professionals (evaluators, attorneys, and others), assisting with reviewing/writing IEPs, drafting state complaints, preparing files for due process hearings, and attending mediation and resolution sessions. 

I LIVE OVER AN HOUR FROM YOUR OFFICE.  DO YOU WORK IN MY AREA?
I work all over Connecticut.  

WHAT ARE YOUR FEES?
Please email me, and I will send you an introductory packet, which includes my current fees.  It's also fine to call me at (860) 270-0151.  I offer families an initial phone consultation at no charge.

ARE YOUR FEES HIGHER THAN OTHER ADVOCATES?
My hourly fees are higher than some advocates and lower than others.  What people charge is often related to the number of years they have been working as an advocate and the level and scope of their training.  (See my information, here.)  In addition, I tend to work pretty efficiently, so my overall fees may be lower, even if others charge a lower rate per hour.

DO YOU WORK FOR SCHOOL DISTRICTS?
No.  Families need to be confident that their advocate is 100% focused on their child's needs.  Accepting payment from schools would create a conflict of interest.  

DO I NEED AN ADVOCATE OR ATTORNEY?
I am a non-attorney advocate and cannot provide legal advice.  If you are wondering whether you need an attorney, it's not a bad idea to consult an attorney.  Most will do an initial consultation at no charge.

My personal decision-making criteria for "advocate or attorney" depends on the specific situation.  But generally. . . 
  • If I need someone to represent me in a due process hearing?  I would talk with an attorney.  In Connecticut, only attorneys may represent families in due process hearings.  Families may also represent themselves in hearings and are allowed to be accompanied by an advocate.  
  • If my child has been referred to an expulsion hearing?  Or arrested?  Or suspended for more than 10 days?  I would retain an attorney ASAP.  If you need referrals and/or can't afford an attorney, call or email me for additional resources.
  • If I need help getting my child evaluated or identified?  Advocate. Unless one of the above apply.
  • If I need help understanding evaluations and school records?  Advocate.
  • If I need help developing my child's program?  Or identifying resources for evaluation or instruction?  I would talk with an advocate first. 
  • If I need help persuading the school to pay for an expensive consultant or program?  Advocate then (if I got a "no") attorney.
  • If I need someone to attend a PPT with me without setting an adversarial tone? Advocate.  If I brought an attorney to a PPT, the school board would be very likely to bring their attorney.  And when two attorneys attend, sometimes the meeting ends up being about legal "maneuvering," rather than the child's program.  There are exceptions, of course.
  • If I am going to mediation?  A mediation agreement is a legal document, enforceable in court; so if I could afford it, I would bring an attorney to mediation.  If the cost is too high (especially compared with what I am seeking), I would bring an advocate who has experience with mediation.
  • If I'm filing a state complaint?  Advocate or attorney.
If you have questions or need referrals, it's fine to call me at (860) 270-0151 or email me at diane.willcutts@gmail.com.




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