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AFC in the News

01.26.2022 | Bronx News 12 | News 12 breaks down Department of Education preschool special education data with Advocates for Children of New York's Betty Baez Melo on the disparities in access to special education for preschool students. Watch video

01.20.2022 | NY1 | “Preschool students with disabilities are not getting the special education services that they need and have the legal right to receive, and are being underserved by the city's early childhood education programs,” Betty Baez Melo, projector director for the Early Childhood Project at Advocates for Children, said. 

Advocates for Children analyzed new data on the city’s youngest students with Individualized Education Plans, or IEPs. The findings undermine the city’s promise of universal pre-kindergarten. Watch video

01.20.2022 | PIX 11 | One out of every three preschoolers with disabilities attending a city-run 3K program did not receive their mandated services during the 2019-2020 school year, according to Advocates for Children of New York.  

Those services include speech therapy, occupational therapy, and special education instruction.  

Preschool students with disabilities are being underserved by New York City public 3K and Pre-K for All programs. The report shows preschool students with disabilities are being denied their legally mandated special education programs and services. Watch video

01.20.2022 | NY Daily News | “Families who are able to navigate the preschool special education process speak proudly of the progress they see their children make after receiving services,” said Betty Baez Melo, Director of Advocates for Children’s Early Childhood Education Project. “Unfortunately, in our experience, parents of preschoolers with disabilities run into roadblocks and delays at every turn.” Read article

01.20.2022 | Chalkbeat NY | “Children are missing out on special education services at a time when you can really have the most impact on their development and education,” said Betty Baez Melo, an early childhood education expert at Advocates for Children. 

“We know more needs to be done, and will work with Advocates for Children and families to ensure all students have access to a strong start and the services they need,” said DOE spokesperson Sarah Casasnovas. Read article

01.17.2022 | PIX 11 | Advocates for Children of New York has spent five decades helping at-risk students in New York City get the education they deserve. The nonprofit has built a legacy of fighting for kids and families who otherwise might fall through the cracks. Watch video

01.14.2022 | The 74 | Randi Levine, policy director for Advocates for Children of New York, which works to improve education for low-income students, said Hochul’s priorities are in line with her own, especially as it relates to added funding. But she’d like to know more. 

“As is the case with a lot of these proposals, we are eager to see the details,” she said. Read article

01.04.2022 | Education Week | Often, children who can’t reliably decode words continue to advance through school at a substandard level without receiving any evidence-based instruction, said Sarah Part, a policy analyst at the nonprofit Advocates for Children of New York, which offers legal and advocacy support for students from low-income backgrounds in New York City who are struggling in school. 

“The problem just gets worse and worse and worse over the years, and the student gets increasingly frustrated and falls further and further behind,” she said. “They’re students who could have learned to read, no question, had they gotten the type of instruction they needed.” Read article

01.02.2022 | NBC News | But several advocates for student civil rights locally and nationally say they’re receiving more calls this school year from parents concerned about discipline issues. 

Advocates for Children of New York, which helps students facing disciplinary action, reported 47 calls about student discipline so far this school year, a nearly 50 percent increase over the same period in 2019. Read article

12.24.2021 | Manhattan Times | That same month, the Advocates for Children of New York and the Legal Aid Society issued a report highlighting the challenges and learning disparities encountered by foster care kids.

At the time of the report, the DOE did not have a single full-time staffer dedicated to students in foster care. “As a result, the DOE often overlooks one of the student populations that needs support the most,” the report said.

“For too long, students in foster care have been overlooked by the DOE — with no staff to answer questions about their specific needs, help schools understand their rights, or develop programs to support them,” said Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York. “With the right support, school can be an important source of stability to students in foster care at a time in their lives when so much is unfamiliar and uncertain.” Read article