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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

06.14.2023 | Caribbean Life | “High-quality early childhood education can be a game changer for children’s education and must be available to the children who need it most,” said Kim Sweet, executive director, Advocates for Children of New York. “Unfortunately, the city has been falling short, leaving more than 10,000 preschoolers with disabilities without their mandated services and proposing to eliminate funding to provide child care to children who are undocumented, among other challenges. This year’s budget must restore funding for Promise NYC and make the investments necessary to ensure every preschooler with a disability gets the services they need and have a legal right to receive.” Read article

06.14.2023 | PIX 11 | New York City public schools are falling short when it comes to services for preschoolers with disabilities, new data shows. 

The nonprofit Advocates for Children of New York found that almost 10,000 children didn’t get the special services they are legally required to receive. 

PIX11’s Kala Rama has more on this story. Watch video

06.07.2023 | The 74 Million | “The reality is that people have been waiting for years to get the orders to get the services their children need,” says Rebecca Shore, director of litigation at Advocates for Children. “It’s not an issue of resources being available. It’s an issue of kids getting the services they need.” 

Advocates and attorneys who represent special education families in New York City are quick to assert that the bottleneck — getting the DOE to comply with orders issued as the result of a single type of due process hearing — is a symptom of the much bigger problem. 

In 2003, Advocates for Children, a nonprofit that works on behalf of disadvantaged NYC children, filed a class-action lawsuit, L.V. v Department of Education, over the problems with the hearing officer system. The suit originally encompassed nine students and now includes the thousands who are essentially in the same predicament as Vincent. Read article

06.06.2023 | Gothamist | The education department released the data following a new analysis from Advocates for Children of New York that found similar problems in the 2021-2 school year. That year, the analysis found, 9,800 preschoolers did not receive legally required services. The advocacy group found many families also faced delays waiting for their kids to be evaluated for what supports they need. 

Specifically, the analysis found that more than 6,500 preschoolers who needed speech therapy did not receive a single session. More than 5,300 children never received occupational therapy, the nonprofit said, and nearly 2,000 preschool students never had a session of physical therapy. 

No school district managed to fully serve 85% of preschoolers with disabilities in 3-K and Pre-K, according to the review.

Randi Levine, policy director at Advocates for Children from New York, said the analysis was based on the most recent publicly available data. But she said there were indications that the delays had gotten even worse. 

“We’ve been hearing from parents that it’s even harder to get services this year,” she said. Levine said education department officials have also reported difficulty finding providers. Read article

06.06.2023 | Chalkbeat NY | More than one-third of New York City’s preschool children with disabilities did not receive all of the extra support they’re entitled to in the last school year, according to a report released Tuesday morning. 

The report, by advocacy organization Advocates for Children New York, analyzes the most recently available city data for the 2021-22 school year. The figure represents an increase from the 2020-21 school year, when 30% of children, or about 7,800, didn’t receive all of their required services. Read article

06.06.2023 | NY1 | “The failure to provide these mandated services to these children is really a systemic violation of their legal rights. And unfortunately, we just know that the problem persists this year,” Betty Baez-Melo director of the early childhood education project at Advocates for Children, said. Watch video

06.06.2023 | NY Daily News | Close to 37% of preschoolers with disabilities went all of last year without receiving at least one mandated service, such as speech or physical therapy, according to a new analysis of education department data released Tuesday by Advocates for Children. The shortfall is likely far worse and the data understates the magnitude of the problem, advocates say. 

That’s because the city considers children “served” if they had just one session, and systemic legal violations appear to have increased this year. “We have had even more difficulty this year getting services in place for preschoolers with disabilities whose parents contact us,” said Betty Baez Melo, director of the Early Childhood Education Project at Advocates for Children. Read article

06.06.2023 | News 12 | Advocates for Children of New York released this report on Tuesday. Services that weren’t provided to those 9,800 pre-K students include speech, occupational therapy and physical therapy, despite students being recommended for these resources.  

The advocacy group says that they work with families throughout the city, dealing with even more difficulty for the ongoing school year getting services in place for these preschoolers – which is why they think the numbers for this school year may end up being even higher. Watch video

05.23.2023 | amNY | Randi Levine, policy director of Advocates for Children of New York, highlighted inequities that cuts to the education budget would deepen: access to expedited mental health care for students at dozens of high-need schools, funding for immigrant family communication and outreach, and funding for community schools that provide comprehensive, wraparound services. 

Levine raised concerns around from the “Program to Eliminate the Gap” which would be save $305 million from a re-estimate of growth in the DOE’s fringe benefits budget. 

“The city’s explanation has been that the amount allocated for fringe has been exceeding actual fringe expenses,” Levine told amNewYork Metro in an email. “However, we understand that the DOE has used the excess fringe benefits funding this year for other purposes ranging from early childhood education to leases.” Read article

05.22.2023 | News 12 | "The city has decided not to move forward with the planned expansion of 3-K.  We think it's important for children who need early child education get a seat and it includes those with disabilities,” said Randi Levine, policy director for Advocates for Children of New York.  Watch video