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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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AFC in the News

04.20.2022 | NY Daily News | “For too long, students in foster care have been an afterthought at the Department of Education – resulting in students going without needed school supports at a time in their lives when so much is unfamiliar and uncertain,” said Erika Palmer, a supervising attorney for Advocates for Children of New York. Read article

04.20.2022 | New York Post | Erika Palmer, an attorney at Advocates for Children, said that after foster kid “Daniel,” a pseudonym to protect his privacy, was threatened by his mom with a knife, he got into trouble at school that resulted in his suspension. 

Daniel was eventually allowed back into the building, “but at that point, the damage had been done,” Palmer said — his attendance suffered, he started staying out late and was even hospitalized. 

“We must ensure that school is a place where students in care feel safe and supported, rather than a place where they feel unsafe, unwanted and let down,” she said.

Activists also said the DOE hasn’t been providing federally-mandated transportation to school for foster care students — a claim the city adamantly denied. Read article

04.13.2022 | City Limits | “Work-based learning opportunities like SYEP are especially important for English Language Learners (ELLs), but many immigrant students and students learning English have historically been left out of these programs, due to documentation barriers and a lack of language supports,” said Juliet Eisenstein, Advocates For Children’s Postsecondary Readiness Project attorney. Read article | Lee el artículo

04.07.2022 | Chalkbeat NY | “It seems to be really inconsistent in how much they’ve been able to do for kids at different schools,” said Maggie Moroff, a special education expert at Advocates for Children, a nonprofit group. Schools are “offering what they have as opposed to what the kids need.” 

The program got off to a shaky start, with the education department delaying implementation until December at many schools. School leaders couldn’t find enough educators interested in working after hours, and school officials did not guarantee yellow bus transportation, making it difficult for many children to participate. 

Some parents were turned off by limited communication about what services their children would receive, even as officials vowed the program would be individually tailored based on conversations between families and teachers. Read article

04.07.2022 | PIX 11 | Advocates For Children said about 15% of approximately 200,000 special needs students are not getting their legally mandated services from the city. 

"Currently about 1 out of 6 students with disabilites are not getting all of their legally mandated services, or [are] in their legally mandated placements," said Maggie Moroff, Senior Special Education Policy Coordinator at Advocates for Children of New York. Watch video

04.04.2022 | City & State | In other areas, the council is calling for funding to hire new positions, including $12 million to hire shelter-based community coordinators at the Department of Education. According to the council’s budget response, only 52% of city students who have been homeless and spend time living in shelters graduated on time, while 60% were chronically absent. Education advocates have called for more funding for community coordinators to serve as resources for these students. Read article

03.30.2022 | Chalkbeat NY | The lawsuit, filed in November 2020 by the nonprofit Advocates for Children, claimed that tens of thousands of students with disabilities missed crucial services and instruction after the city’s school buildings shut down. In the immediate aftermath of the pandemic, city officials struggled to provide functional remote learning devices for every student, leaving some without access to instruction. Some services such as physical therapy were extremely difficult to deliver virtually. 

Advocates for Children was “disappointed by the decision and are considering all options,” the organization’s litigation director, Rebecca Shore, wrote in an email. She did not immediately say whether the organization planned to appeal. 

Advocates said that without a streamlined process for offering makeup services, families will get tangled in the existing impartial hearing process or may simply forgo support to which they’re entitled.

“These existing procedures are time-consuming and often favor families able to afford lawyers, leaving economically disadvantaged students behind,” wrote Isabella Rieke, a spokesperson for Advocates for Children. “This is especially true now, given how backlogged and overburdened the city’s special education impartial hearing system already is.” Read article

03.25.2022 | Gothamist | Sarah Part, a policy analyst at Advocates for Children, said the problems with literacy instruction are deepening inequities and widening the achievement gap. She said a large number of parents with means have been hiring tutors to address shortcomings in literacy instruction in school. 

“Parents who have resources are going to find a tutor,” she said. “They’re going to get help outside of school. But families who don't have resources …  are very, very dependent on what happens at school.” Read article

03.24.2022 | New York Zero-to-Three Network | "After law school, I came to Advocates for Children and represented individual families whose children were facing barriers to accessing the early childhood services and programs they needed – children being excluded from early childhood programs because of their needs and children being denied services. I saw families hit roadblock after roadblock – but also saw the difference that advocacy can make in helping connect children with the support they need as early in life as possible." 

"In NYC, it has been exciting to see that there is now a promise of a pre-k seat available for every 4-year-old child, and yet we have a lot of work to do to ensure that the program is truly universal and that all children, including children with disabilities, children who are homeless, and children from immigrant families can access the programs they need. We advocated for the City to launch a task force focused on increasing access to ECE for children living in shelters, and the City was able to accomplish that. We are urging the new administration to pick this work back up and ensure every family that wants a seat in an early childhood program is able to access one." Read article

03.21.2022 | NY Daily News | Four months later, the division has yet to hire a single staffer — and advocates are urging the city to pick up the pace. 

“Students in foster care have waited far too long for much-needed supports from the DOE,” said Kim Sweet, executive director of Advocates for Children of New York. “A small team of DOE staff could make a huge difference for these 7,000 students, and the Adams administration should ensure that meeting their needs is not put on hold.” Read article