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Micaela’s Story

Micaela is a dual-language learner who is on the autism spectrum and needed an appropriate school placement for kindergarten.

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News & Media

AFC in the News

12.19.2022 | The Hechinger Report | In a May report pushing for stronger reading curricula in New York City schools, as well as an amped-up safety net for those who struggle, leaders of Advocates for Children of New York said that for too long it has been left up to families to ensure their children become literate. “Blame for low literacy rates is placed not on the system itself, but on individual students and their families,” the report stated. Read article

12.16.2022 | BronxNet | On this edition of Today’s Verdict, attorney Juliet Eisenstein, Esq. from Advocates for Children of New York explains to us about eliminating Regents exams from graduation requirements, a practice which currently makes New York State an outlier in the US. Watch video

12.15.2022 | NYC News Service | “It’s a really unjust and inequitable system,” said Maggie Moroff, senior special-education policy coordinator at the nonprofit Advocates for Children of New York. “And the more resources the family has, the more likely they are to be able to navigate the system, to understand it, to supplement it, and all of those things.” Read article

12.13.2022 | ABC 7 News | New York City officials announced an expansion of seats for preschool students with special needs across all five boroughs on Tuesday. "Many of these children were sitting at home waiting months or longer, in violation of their legal rights," said Randi Levine, policy director at Advocates for Children of New York. 

Mayor Eric Adams said the Department of Education is keeping the current 3,000 seats available and adding 800 more seats by this spring across 65 early childhood providers. 

Officials said previously, the early childhood education system did not have a strategic or intentional focus on serving young kids living with disabilities and their families. Their teachers and educators were also paid less than their general education peers. Watch video

12.13.2022 | Chalkbeat NY | The city has also committed to opening another 400 new seats by sometime this spring.  

“We plan to hold the administration accountable for delivering on that promise,” said Randi Levine, policy director for Advocates for Children, a nonprofit organization that has for years pushed for more such seats, during Tuesday’s press conference. “The city has a legal obligation and a moral obligation to do so.” 

In an interview, Levine noted that under the city’s plan, preschool special education teachers will now be paid as much as a new teacher who works for the education department. 

“But every step helps,” she said. Read article

12.13.2022 I Gothamist | According to Advocates for Children of New York, while the de Blasio administration did provide preschool programming for students with disabilities, it was not enough. Hundreds of the city’s 3- and 4-year-olds have been unable to participate in the city’s free pre-K programming because there have not been enough teachers and seats for special education. 

“In recent years, parents of children with disabilities have watched the expansion of pre-K and 3-K and wondered, ‘Why are there no seats for our children?” said the group’s policy director, Randi Levine. “Why are our children’s teachers paid less…Why is the school day length for our children shorter … And why do our children always seem to come last?’” Read article

12.13.2022 | NY Daily News | “We’ve heard from family after family with the same story,” said Randi Levine of Advocates for Children. “Their young child had autism or other complex disabilities and needed a seat in a preschool special-education class, but there was no seats available. Many of these children were sitting at home waiting months or longer in violation of their legal rights.” Read article

12.13.2022 | NY1 | A shortage of seats left hundreds of students with disabilities without a spot in a special education classroom that could meet the needs listed on their Individualized Education Program, or IEP, according to annual data from the organization Advocates for Children. 

“At the end of the last school year 800 children were waiting for seats in their legally mandated preschool special education classes,” said Randi Levine, policy director at AFC, at Tuesday’s press conference. Watch video

12.13.2022 | City & State | A report released in January by nonprofit Advocates for Children found that about 34% of preschool students identified for needing special education did not receive all their mandated services in the 2019-2020 school year. Students of color as well as children needing bilingual services and those experiencing homelessness were vastly, disproportionately overrepresented in these 10,300 students. And 1,222 students didn’t get into a preschool special education program at all, according to the report. Read article

12.12.2022 | Chalkbeat NY | Historically, there has been a failure to cooperate and minimize disruptions to students’ schooling between the multiple agencies connected to homeless children, including the education department and homeless services, said Jennifer Pringle, director of Project Learning In Temporary Housing at Advocates for Children. 

This moment, in particular, is critical for figuring out solutions, said Pringle, whose organization is one of more than three dozen calling for an inter-agency task force focused on how to tackle a slew of issues, including reducing chronic absenteeism among homeless students.  

“This is an opportunity to figure out, OK, as families are coming in, how can we make sure that kids are connected with school, connected with their peers, with their teachers,” Pringle said, “so that while the family is going through this process and ultimately finds permanent housing, the kids’ education doesn’t get derailed.” 

But even a shelter placement in the same borough can mean a challenging commute to school.

When there are school attendance issues, many shelter providers’ default position is to encourage families to change schools, Pringle said, rather than to revisit shelter placements and try to move families closer to their schools. 

“In a city where we have so many shelter locations, the needs of children are not being prioritized as a part of this process,” she said. Read article