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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

07.02.2014 | Capital New York | The Department of Education faces a daunting challenge in accommodating a large and growing population of special needs students, statistics in an Independent Budget Office report released Tuesday revealed...“These numbers remind us that students with special needs are not a minor sub-population,” said Kim Sweet, the executive director of Advocates For Children. “In fact, they’re a significant segment of the student body in New York City that we need to focus on educating well.” Read article

07.01.2014 | Chalkbeat New York | The percentage of English language learners with a disability is similar to the overall share of city students with a disability. But advocates said it was still alarming to see the numbers. “These students are often among the most poorly served in the system,” said Kim Sweet, executive director of Advocates for Children. “With such significant numbers, this group really merits more attention from policy makers.” Read article

06.27.2014 | Chalkbeat New York | According to Nick Sheehan, who works on the School Justice Project at Advocates for Children, safety transfers are “really challenging to get.” The biggest stumbling block, he said, is the required police report, which the city’s regulations list among the required documents for a safety transfer. Parents might not have time to file a report, he said, and “historic distrust” between the police and students’ communities might also discourage families. An even bigger problem, he said, is that students might feel unsafe at school even before a crime has been committed against them. “Sometimes the safety concern doesn’t rise to a level of criminal activity [that would be filed in a police report], it’s just ongoing bullying and harassment,” Sheehan said. Read article

06.24.2014 | New York Times | “This is a good initial step towards reducing the unnecessary frustration that parents of students with special needs face as they struggle to find an appropriate education for their children,” Kim Sweet, the executive director of Advocates for Children of New York, said in a statement. “Now we have to make sure they follow through.” Read article

06.24.2014 | Chalkbeat New York | While some advocates commended the announcement as a step in the right direction, they pointed out that it is not a new law, but a policy change that must be enacted. The education department has not yet created any new regulations to codify the new policies, officials said. “I’m eager to see how this will all be implemented,” said Rebecca Shore, litigation director at Advocates for Children. “I hope this announcement will result in less litigation and a less frustrating process for parents.” Read article

06.24.2014 | Capital New York | As the de Blasio administration rolls out its ambitious expansion of pre-kindergarten, it will be hard-pressed to accommodate children with special needs, special education advocates say...Groups like Advocates For Children, Parent to Parent and the Interagency Council say they’ve been in communication with the DOE over the last several months to outline their most pressing special needs demands; AFC has a meeting with DOE officials later this week....“Children have such a brief window to get prepared for kindergarten,” said [Randi] Levine [director of AFC’s Early Childhood Education Project]. “Especially for kids with delays, these are the children who are starting out the most behind and who have potentially the most to gain from the extra year of pre-K, but only if they have the services they need.” Read article

06.23.2014 | NY1 | The state data also reveals another alarming trend: over the past four years, the graduation rate for English Language Learners has been steadily declining. "It was really depressing to see the graduation rates for English Language Learners to actually go down," says Kim Sweet. In 2010, 41.5% of students learning English graduated. By 2013, just 32.3% did..."By concentrating on strengthening pre-k through 12 education, that's a really good start. But importantly, the city and the state both have to look at the needs of students who enter high school very, very far behind and create pathways and options for them," Sweet says. Read article

06.13.2014 | Capital New York | Deputy chancellor for special education Corrine Rello-Anselmi attends meetings with the citywide council on special education monthly, but Fariña's presence brought out parents in droves. The meeting was standing-room only. "It was a greatest-hits conversation of special-education needs," said Maggie Moroff, an attorney and policy coordinator at Advocates for Children, an advocacy organization for high-risk and special-needs children who attended the meeting. Read article

06.10.2014 | Education Week | Randi Levine, the director of the Early Childhood Education Project, an initiative of Advocates for Children of New York, said she was pleased with the outreach efforts thus far. "We're working with [city officials] to make sure some of the students who could benefit most from the programs know about them," Ms. Levine said, citing children such as those living in the city's homeless shelters, Ms. Levine said. City officials have met with shelter managers to explain the program to them, let them know about nearby programs, and given them a list of eligible children housed in the shelter. But Ms. Levine said the city could do more to actually go into the shelters and sign up children. Read article

04.18.2014 | New York World | Youth advocates praise the progress that has been made so far under the Passages program. According to ACS, 98 percent of long-term students have earned credits toward graduation. All the same, they are asking ACS and DOE to disseminate more detailed data about how students are faring, revealing the school performance of specific groups at Passages Academy — among them students receiving special education services. “It’s been very difficult for us to make any assessments because very little data has come out,” said Amy Breglio, Staff Attorney at Advocates for Children’s School Justice Project, a New York–based nonprofit. Information about young people in detention and not enrolled at Passages, meanwhile, is even scarcer, she notes. Read article