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Read Sharon's Story

Sharon has a learning disability and recently graduated from high school thanks to AFC's assistance securing the support she needed to learn.

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Who We Serve

Students with Disabilities

Students with Disabilities

Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) has been protecting and promoting the educational rights of students with disabilities for the past 40 years.  As a result, we have unparalleled experience and expertise in special education, particularly in the New York City schools.  All of AFC’s projects involve special education advocacy to some extent, as they target specific populations that tend to include a disproportionate share of students with disabilities.

AFC’s Project Thrive focuses on low-income families with children with disabilities who need legal representation or in-depth case advocacy.  Our staff advises parents of their legal rights, negotiates on their behalf, and represents them in administrative hearings to obtain the services their children need to support their development, succeed in school, and maximize their independence.

Community Education

AFC’s Parent Center is at the core of the organization -- dedicated to supporting parents as they fight for a quality education for their children.  Through our Parent Center, we provide training, information, and assistance to parents of children with disabilities, ages 0-26, and the professionals who work with them.  We present workshops, in English and Spanish, throughout New York City’s communities that prepare parents to advocate effectively for their children’s education-related rights in the public school system.

Our Parent Center started more than 25 years ago and now includes our federally funded Parent Training and Information Center (PTIC) as well as the state-funded Special Education Parent Center for the Bronx and Manhattan (operated under a contract with Resources for Children with Special Needs).  We are proud members of the New York State Parent Network.

Trainings and Workshops

AFC’s Parent Center can provide FREE trainings and workshops at your school or organization on a variety of education-related topics, such as:

  • Student and parent rights
  • Early intervention services for infants and toddlers
  • Transitioning from preschool special education to kindergarten
  • Special education services, K-12
  • How to read and develop an IEP
  • Behavior challenges and school discipline
  • Supports and programs for students with ADHD
  • Access to schools and services
  • Transition to adulthood


Workshops provide a customized, interactive presentation by one of our staff members, opportunities to ask questions, and easy-to-use information packets. Our staff offers workshops in both English and Spanish and will collaborate with your agency to present materials in other languages.

For more information or to schedule a training, contact Joanne Buccellato at jbuccellato@advocatesforchildren.org or 1-212-822-9505.

Guides & Resources

Click here to view even more guides and resources.

Policy Work

AFC is a recognized leader in school reform efforts, with expertise in bringing together community-based organizations, parents’ groups, and government agencies to address systemic problems and improve outcomes and options for all students. View our policy priorities.

In 2008, AFC founded the ARISE Coalition, a diverse group of parents, educators, and advocates working together to improve the education of students with disabilities in New York City’s public schools.  AFC continues to coordinate and lead the coalition. 

In addition, AFC currently has initiatives in teacher evaluationschool disciplineearly childhood, and pathways to a diploma that address important issues now facing students with disabilities.

Litigation

When other avenues have been exhausted, AFC also engages in systemic reform through impact litigation. Such efforts have the potential to affect thousands of children with disabilities within the New York City public school system. For example, in a highly publicized case involving the co-location of Girls Preparatory Charter School with a public school serving students with autism, we established the right of parents in schools for students with disabilities to participate fully in the public process required for proposed co-locations or other significant changes in school utilization that may affect their schools. 

Other examples of key litigation include:

  • Jose P. v. Mills, a class action lawsuit filed more than thirty years ago on behalf of students with disabilities to address the Department of Education’s failure to provide them with timely and appropriate services;
  • L.V. v. New York City Department of Education, in which parents of children with disabilities filed suit claiming that they had received favorable orders and settlements in impartial hearings that were not being timely enforced;
  • C.D. v. New York City Department of Education, which challenged the New York City Department of Education’s failure to provide free breakfast and lunch to children with disabilities who would ordinarily be entitled to receive meals in school, but who had to attend special education private schools because the DOE did not offer them an appropriate public school education.

Ideas That Work
The contents of this web page were developed under a grant from the US Department of Education, #H328M110008. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the US Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal Government.