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AFC in the News

05.18.2022 | amNY | New data from the Advocates for Children of New York City (AFC) highlighted the alarmingly low rate of attendance from students living in city homeless shelters. 

AFC’s findings from their Still Disconnected: Persistently Low Attendance Rates for Students in Shelter led the group to call on the New York City Department of Education (DOE) to direct COVID-19 relief money towards hiring shelter-based staff who can help ensure students experiencing homelessness to attend school every day. 

“The Administration’s current proposal for spending millions in federal funding does not address the most fundamental problem, which is that children in shelter are not getting to school in the first place,” said Jennifer Pringle, Director of AFC’s Learners in Temporary Housing Project during the May 18 announcement. “School can transform the lives of students who are homeless, but only if students get there. With the federal funding available, the Administration has the opportunity and responsibility to tackle chronic absenteeism for students living in shelters by investing in coordinators to figure out why students aren’t making it to school and resolve the problems that stand in their way.” Read article

05.18.2022 | NY1 | Attendance among students living in homeless shelters remains “alarmingly low,” even after full-time in-person schooling resumed last fall, a new analysis from the organization Advocates for Children found. 

Advocates for Children argues it shows the need for more Department of Education staff based directly in shelters who can help families overcome barriers to school attendance, such as transportation or enrollment issues. Read article

05.18.2022 | Bronx News 12 | Advocates for Children of New York released the report stating students living in shelters had an overall attendance rate of 78.9% in the fall of 2011. That's almost 11% lower than the attendance rate for permanent housed students. 

The group is now calling on the Department of Education to direct federal COVID-19 relief dollars toward hiring shelter-based staff that can help ensure homeless students get to school every day. The DOE says it is hiring 50 additional community coordinators to help students in temporary housing and meet their needs. Watch video

05.17.2022 | Chalkbeat NY | The new rules will mean just an extra hour of learning a day for these students. Still, it’s a “really critical” change for families, said Maggie Moroff, a special education policy expert at Advocates for Children, who said that even pre-pandemic students at home were getting far fewer hours of instruction when compared to their peers in school. 

“There was so little oversight, and experiences were so dramatically different, but in a world where more and more students are needing to learn from home in order to remain healthy and safe, we really want to make sure that they get the supports that they need,” Moroff said. Read article

05.12.2022 | The New York Times | The new policy was met with applause by a group who has called for reading reforms in the city. 

“The plans announced today could have a transformative impact if implemented well,” Kim Sweet, the executive director for Advocates for Children of New York, said in a statement, adding that the group looked forward to working with education officials to ensure that “all children learn to read, no matter where they go to school.” Read article

05.12.2022 | Prism Reports | “It’s overly broad. It’s subjective, it’s vague, and once you have subjectivity, you have a greater likelihood of bias,” said Dawn Yuster, Esq., director of the School Justice Project for Advocates for Children. Last year, Advocates for Children released an update to their report, “Police Response to Students in Emotional Crisis: A Call for Comprehensive Mental Health and Social-Emotional Support for Students in Police-Free Schools,” which showed that disabled students—which includes students labeled ED—are more likely to be removed from schools, or restrained by the police and school safety agents. 

Students with an ED classification are often segregated into District 75, New York City’s designation for classrooms, programs, or entire schools that provide specialized support for disabled students. Advocates for Children’s report found that while District 75 students only make up 2.3% of the public school student population, over 9% “child in crisis” interventions involving the use of handcuffs between 2018 and 2020 happened at a District 75 school. This analysis also notes that during the same period more than one-in-five students handcuffed while in crisis was a District 75 student.

“Our data suggests that low-income Black students with emotional and behavioral disabilities are disproportionately referred to some District 75 schools where they are segregated from their peers, heavily policed, and may not be receiving the therapeutic support and services that they need,” said Yuster. She went on to explain how students of color are often miscategorized as emotionally disturbed by adding, “a lot of these [disruptive] behaviors are manifestations of woefully deficient services, inappropriate diagnoses, or an unmet academic learning behavioral need.” Read article

05.12.2022 | Gothamist | Last week, a report from Advocates for Children called on the education department to urgently revamp literacy instruction across the public school system. Fewer than 47% of all third through eighth graders, and only 36% of Black and Hispanic students, scored proficient in reading on 2019 state tests, statistics the group called “unconscionable.” Read article

05.12.2022 | Chalkbeat NY | The plans “could have a transformative impact if implemented well,” said Kim Sweet, of Advocates for Children, which has spent decades fighting for low-income students who are struggling with reading and are unable to be supported in public schools. 

Her organization looked forward to “digging into the details” and working with the education department so that “all children learn to read, no matter where they go to school,” she said in a statement. Read article

05.12.2022 | NY Daily News | Kim Sweet, the executive director of Advocates for Children, a group that works on behalf of students with disabilities and recently released its own recommendations to improve reading instruction, said “we’re encouraged to see the Mayor and Chancellor tackling this issue head on. The plans announced today could have a transformative impact if implemented well.” Read article

05.02.2022 | Harlem World | “Every year, Advocates for Children of NY helps newly arrived, immigrant youth enroll in high school, but we continue to struggle with identifying schools that are willing to accept older, newcomer students ages 16-21 who require intensive English instruction, academic remediation, and socio-emotional support in order to graduate. Oftentimes, the only appropriate school options for this population of students are “ELL transfer schools,” but of the five that exist, only one is located outside of Manhattan, making it nearly impossible for youth in Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island to attend those schools,” said Rita Rodriguez-Engberg, Director, Immigrant Students’ Rights Project at Advocates for Children of New York. “By funding programs to support this population of students at existing transfer schools in their neighborhoods, the City has an opportunity to show our immigrant students that good schools are in fact an option for them.” Read article