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News & Media

Press Releases

03.15.2018 | Today, Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) and Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York (CCC) called on Mayor de Blasio to provide critical support to students who are homeless, releasing a publication entitled Recommendations for Improving School Access and Success for Rising Numbers of Students in Temporary Housing [PDF].  In addition, sixteen leading child advocacy, education, and housing organizations sent a letter to Mayor de Blasio [PDF] urging him to include a significant infusion of resources in the budget to support these students.

In 2016-2017, a record 104,088 New York City students were identified as homeless—a 50 percent increase from just five years ago.  For the past two years, the Administration included $10.3 million in the budget to support students who are homeless, including funding for 43 Department of Education “Bridging the Gap” social workers to work with students living in shelters at schools with high populations of these students.  These social workers have provided counseling to students, connected them to academic support and mental health services, and worked to improve attendance.  

However, the Mayor’s recent budget proposal did not include any funding to continue these initiatives.  When asked about this omission, the Mayor stated that he was still determining what type of support to include for these students in the 2019 budget.

Given the number of students in temporary housing and the barriers they face to school success, the organizations are urging the Mayor to:

  1. Establish a Deputy Chancellor’s Office for Highly Mobile Students (including students in temporary housing and students in foster care)
  2. Hire Field Support Center Directors for Highly Mobile Students
  3. Increase the number of DOE Bridging the Gap school-based social workers for students in shelters from 43 social workers to 100
  4. Hire 50 DOE social workers to provide intensive supports at shelters to address education-related issues 

“With more than 100,000 students homeless, we have a crisis situation that demands high-level leadership from the Department of Education,” said Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children.  “The Mayor’s goals of equity and excellence require bold action to help ensure that students who are homeless can get to school every day and receive the counseling and academic support they need to succeed.” 

“The family homelessness crisis demands that City leaders take additional steps to better support homeless children both get to school and succeed in school,” said Jennifer March, Executive Director of Citizens’ Committee for Children.  “This starts with restoring the funding currently supporting social workers, but must also include prioritizing the needs of homeless students and investing in additional supports to reduce absenteeism and help homeless students thrive.”

View news release as a PDF

02.01.2018 | Today, Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), issued the following statement in response to the release of the City’s Fiscal Year 2019 Preliminary Budget: 

We are appalled that the Mayor’s Preliminary Budget would eliminate funding for the DOE Bridging the Gap social workers for students living in shelters. Just yesterday, while testifying in Albany, Chancellor Fariña highlighted these social workers as a key accomplishment.  The Bridging the Gap social workers are providing critical support to students who are homeless, including providing counseling services, connecting students with academic support, and helping to combat chronic absenteeism.

Over the past five years, the number of students in temporary housing in NYC schools has increased by 50 percent to more than 100,000 students. During this time period, the only increase in DOE staffing targeted to serving this population was the addition of the 43 Bridging the Gap social workers who are only funded through the end of the 2017-2018 school year.  

The high number of students in temporary housing is a crisis that requires more of the City’s attention and resources. We call on the City to appoint high-level leadership, including a DOE Deputy Chancellor for Highly Mobile Students, to drive system-wide change; to fund 100 Bridging the Gap social workers to assist students living in shelters at schools with high populations of these students; and to begin placing DOE social workers at shelters, including the new shelters the City is opening, to help address barriers to education. Such an infusion of leadership and resources is needed to achieve equity and excellence for students who are homeless.

View statement as a PDF

first page of data brief11.02.2017 | Today, Advocates for Children of New York is releasing a brief analyzing data reported by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) showing that Black students are significantly over-represented in NYPD “child in crisis” interventions – incidents involving students in emotional distress sent to the hospital for psychological evaluation.  The new data brief, entitled Children in Crisis: Police Response to Students in Emotional Distress [PDF], scrutinizes data made public as part of 2015 amendments to the Student Safety Act that require reporting of enhanced information on police activities involving students in New York City public schools. The brief examines the demographic characteristics of students involved in child in crisis interventions, as well as the NYPD’s use of handcuffs on students as young as 5 years old during these incidents between July 2016 and June 2017.

Read the news release [PDF]
Read the data brief [PDF]

11.01.2017 |  Today, Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), issued the following statement in response to the New York City Department of Education’s annual report of information regarding students receiving special education services pursuant to Local Law 27: 

In reviewing the data just released by the DOE and comparing it to data for the past two years, we are struck by how little has changed. We are still seeing unacceptably low percentages of students receiving timely special education evaluations and IEP meetings—essentially the same as in prior years.

We are heartened to see that the percentage of students fully receiving special education services increased from 59 percent last year to 73 percent this year. However, the fact remains that over 25 percent of students with disabilities—nearly 50,000 students—are still going without all of the special education services they are entitled to receive under law.  

At a time when we see significant numbers of students with disabilities in NYC unable to meet curricular expectations, it is not surprising that the data continues to show considerable delays and deficits in special education evaluations, IEP meetings, and delivery of services. For example, while every student should leave school being able to read, only 10 percent of students with disabilities in NYC demonstrated proficiency in English Language Arts on last year’s third through eighth grade state exams. Unless and until the 193,361 students with disabilities in NYC schools receive the supports they require, those students will continue to lag behind their general education peers in critical academic areas.

The measure of a good school system is one that makes sure that all its students, including those with greater needs, receive the supports and services necessary for success. NYC has a lot of work to do.

View as PDF

10.10.2017 | Today, the New York State Technical and Education Assistance Center for Homeless Students (NYS-TEACHS), a project of Advocates for Children of New York, posted new data showing the number of students identified as homeless enrolled in New York City and New York State schools for the 2016-2017 school year. 

The data come from the New York State Education Department’s Student Information Repository System (SIRS) and show that during the 2016-2017 school year:

  • 148,215 students were identified as homeless by NYS school districts and charter schools.
  • This represents a 6% increase from the 2015-2016 school year. 
  • The New York City Department of Education identified 104,088 students experiencing homelessness.
  • Students in temporary housing now make up approximately 5% of the total student population in NYS and 10% of the student population in NYC.

“One out of every ten NYC students is homeless,” said Kim Sweet, AFC’s Executive Director. “The number of children and youth experiencing homelessness in NYC is twice the size of the entire Boston public school system.”

“We are pleased that Chancellor Carmen Fariña identified addressing the needs of students who are homeless as one of her priorities for this school year,” Sweet said.  “Over the past few years, the City has taken some positive steps, including offering yellow bus service to kindergarten through sixth grade students living in shelter, increasing pre-K enrollment among children living in shelter, and hiring more than 30 Department of Education social workers for schools with high populations of students living in shelter.  Now, we urge the City to expand the number of DOE social workers for students in temporary housing, ensure high-level leadership on this issue, and devote the resources needed to address the significant challenges faced by the rising number of students who are homeless.”

View news release as a PDF

report cover09.29.2017 | Today, Advocates for Children of New York and SCO Family of Services, a social services provider, announced the launch of a Parent Toolkit, an easy to use guide that provides recommendations and resources to enhance parent involvement in their child’s education while in foster care.  The Toolkit helps parents navigate the education system while embracing the important role they play in their children’s academic success and achievements.  

“Parent engagement can have a dramatic impact on a child’s education, and the recommendations contained in the report demonstrate that more can be done to fully engage parents in their children’s education while in foster care,” remarked Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children. “These recommendations provide a road map for involving parents who have often felt excluded and focus on shared education planning and decision-making, with parents serving as both advocates for their children and partners with schools and foster care agencies.”

The Toolkit accompanies a jointly produced report, Empowering Parents So Children Succeed, and is the product of a three-year partnership between Advocates for Children and SCO Family of Services. 

View the press release [PDF]
View the report [PDF]


Parent Engagement Workflow [PDF]

Parent Education Bill of Rights [PDF]
(also available in Spanish)

Talking to Your Child about School [PDF
(also available in Spanish)

Translation and Interpretation Services Fact Sheet [PDF
(also available in ArabicBengaliChineseFrenchHaitian CreoleKoreanRussianSpanishUrdu)

School Template Letter [Word file]

School Contacts Sheet [PDF
(also available in Spanish)

IEP Information Sheet [PDF

Parent-Teacher Conferences Tip Sheet [PDF
(also available in Spanish)

Advocates for Children’s Guide to Special Education [PDF
(also available in ArabicBengali, ChineseSpanish)

Online Tools for Locating Community-Based Resources [PDF

Homework Tip Sheet [PDF
(also available in Spanish)

Advocates for Children’s Education Helpline Flyer [PDF
(also available in Spanish)

08.22.2017 | In response to the release of the third through eighth grade English Language Arts (ELA) and Math test scores, Kim Sweet, Executive Director, issued the following statement:

“While we are pleased to see the test scores move in the right direction for New York City students overall, we are concerned about the persistent gaps that exist for students with disabilities and English Language Learners.  Teaching students to read is one of the most fundamental tasks of schools.  With only 5.6% of English Language Learners and 10.7% of students with disabilities scoring proficiently in reading, the City must do more to support these students and ensure that they receive high-quality, evidence-based instruction that targets their individual needs.”

View statement as a PDF

page 1 of data brief07.24.2017 | Today, Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) released a data brief analyzing city and state data showing that English Language Learners (ELLs) are under-represented in career and technical education (CTE) programs at New York City high schools. Entitled Missed Potential: English Language Learners Under-Represented in NYC Career and Technical Education Programs, the brief examines ELL enrollment at schools that offer CTE, as well as their participation and completion rates in the CTE programs at those schools.

The paper offers a list of recommended steps the New York City Department of Education can take to begin to address barriers for ELLs, including resolving recruitment and enrollment issues, offering extra training for CTE instructors in serving ELLs, and providing classroom supports in CTE schools—such as bilingual CTE classes and translation and interpretation services. 

Read the data brief [PDF]
Read the press release [PDF]

05.17.2017 | As the families of more than 190,000 immigrant students across New York State wrestle with the current climate of fear and uncertainty, a new report finds major inconsistencies in how New York’s school districts are responding and the extent to which they are rising to the challenge of protecting and supporting the immigrant students and families they are charged to serve.  

The report, Safe Havens: Protecting and Supporting New York State’s Immigrant Students  [PDF] — released today by The Education Trust–New York, Advocates for Children of New York, the New York Immigration Coalition and The Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, Inc. — finds that while the New York State Education Department (SED) and the Attorney General’s Office, as well as several individual school districts, have taken a number of important steps, there is much more to do. 

Based on a review of documents from the 25 school districts that together enroll 80 percent of the state’s immigrant students, Safe Havens spotlights positive practices and troubling trends and highlights four critical areas where change is needed:

  • Welcoming all students regardless of immigration status or national origin. 
  • Collection and handling of personal information. 
  • Responding to federal immigration officials. 
  • Supporting students and families when a parent, family member, or guardian is at risk of deportation or has been deported. 

Drawing on the experiences of immigrant community-based organizations, advocates, and service providers, the report includes a set of recommendations for stronger supports at the state, school district and school levels. The report’s recommendations include that SED: assist school districts to provide greater support for immigrant students to ensure their long-term success; reiterate that questions about national origin should not be asked during the student registration process; encourage school districts to adopt — and in some cases, strengthen — their protocols for how to respond to any request for access by ICE; and reinforce the importance of providing social-emotional support. 

“The recommendations in Safe Havens provide a clear roadmap for steps that New York State and district leaders should take to ensure that immigrant students and their families feel safe and supported by public schools,” said Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York. “We appreciate New York State’s and New York City’s efforts to date and believe that the recommendations in the report will assist school districts across New York in meeting the ongoing concerns of immigrant families.”

Read the report [PDF]

04.24.2017 | In response to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement that the City will expand pre-K to three-year-old children starting with District 7 in the South Bronx and District 23 in Brownsville, Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York, released the following statement: 

“Having achieved universal pre-K access for four-year-old children, the City is now forging ahead with a plan to help younger children get a high-quality early childhood education.  This expansion will have a significant impact in providing children with the foundational skills needed for school success. We commend the Mayor for taking another important step toward narrowing the achievement gap.”

View statement as a PDF