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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

08.17.2022 | NY1 | Rita Rodriguez-Engberg, director of the Immigrants Students Rights project at Advocates for Children, says some families may want to seek bilingual programs, taught in English and Spanish. But not every school offers them. 

“All schools should be providing English as a new language, but not all schools have bilingual staff. You don’t need to be a bilingual teacher to teach English as a new language. And not all schools have bilingual social workers — which we assume these kids are probably going to need in order to help them with their social-emotional needs and any trauma that they’ve experienced,” she said. 

According to Rodriguez-Engberg, some families don’t even know they’re eligible to enroll their children in public school. 

“I think we have to start from the very beginning, making sure that anybody who is coming in contact with these families when they arrive is letting them know that they have the right to enroll in school, giving them the tools to do that, taking them if they need to to a family welcome center to help them enroll — and also working with them so they understand what their rights are,” she said. Watch video

08.16.2022 | Telemundo 47 | El Departamento de Educación indicaron que tienen ocho centros de inscripción de menores en toda la ciudad. Carlos Zapata habla con Rita Rodriguez-Enbgerg de Advocates for Children of Nueva York para más información. Watch video

08.15.2022 | NY Post | Rita Rodriguez-Engberg, director of the Immigrant Students’ Rights Project at Advocates for Children, said that the recent arrivals who are learning English and living in shelters “will need targeted support in school, including programming to help them learn English and participate in class.” 

“It’s important for city agencies to work together on a coordinated effort to ensure that every newly arrived immigrant student is placed in a school that can meet their needs by the start of the school year,” Rodriguez-Engberg said. Read article

08.15.2022 | City Limits | In order to address the cascading effects of homelessness in New York, we must first understand the scope of the problem. In March 2022, there were 15,087 homeless children sleeping each night in New York City’s main municipal shelter system. What’s more, New York children are more likely to live in poverty than in 32 other states, with 18 percent (nearly one in five) experiencing poverty. During the 2020-2021 school year, more than 100,000 New York City schoolchildren reported being homeless at some point–a 42 percent increase since 2010, according to a report released by the group Advocates for Children. Read article

08.11.2022 | NY Daily News | “You have this influx of families and at most [shelter] sites, there’s no one from the Department of Education there to help them with enrollment,” said Jennifer Pringle, a project director at Advocates for Children. 

“It’s not fair to families or schools to have this rush of kids enrolling in programs where there’s not sufficient supports available to only to have kids transfer a few weeks later,” Pringle said. “No one wants that.” Read article

08.11.2022 | Chalkbeat NY | “It sounds a little bit like shifting the blame to the families, but the reality is there isn’t somewhere in the public school system for many of those families to turn,” said Maggie Moroff, a disability policy expert at Advocates for Children, which offers free legal help to families seeking private placements. 

Private school tuition payments have long been a contentious policy issue in New York City. Many families and advocates say they are a lifeline for students who would otherwise languish in public school settings, ranging from those with relatively common reading challenges like dyslexia to those with more serious intellectual delays. Read article

08.11.2022 | The New York Post | “The State did not exempt students from completing their coursework, passing their classes, earning the required number of credits, or meeting their teachers’ expectations,” said Sarah Part, a policy analyst at Advocates for Children of New York, including its work on postsecondary readiness. 

“New York is an outlier in requiring exit exams in the first place — most states have zero — and there is no evidence to support the conclusion that exams like the Regents improve student learning or increase the odds of post-secondary success,” she added. Read article

07.29.2022 | Chalkbeat NY | To the outward facing part of the world, it’s very last minute,” said Maggie Moroff, a special education policy expert at the nonprofit Advocates for Children. “It’s hard for me to imagine, if this hasn’t been communicated to the schools yet, how it’s going to play out successfully.” 

Students with disabilities have a legal right to “compensatory services” if their school does not provide all of the specialized instruction or therapies included on their IEP. And a significant share of students with disabilities missed out on special education instruction or therapies that were difficult or impossible to provide during remote learning or as staff were stretched thin. 

But successfully advocating for compensatory services can be time consuming and require legal help. If the district does not agree to provide those extra services, families can go through an administrative legal process to compel the city to provide them, though that process is complex and has faced extreme backlogs that often stretch many months. Advocates for Children filed a lawsuit in an effort to force the city to create a more streamlined process, though that suit has not been successful so far. 

Even if the city instructs schools to provide more compensatory services, Moroff noted that many students aren’t scheduled to have an IEP meeting until the spring, raising questions about how quickly students will have access to extra help. 

“If a student’s last IEP happened last April, they’re not regularly scheduled for an IEP meeting until next April,” she said. “Sure, a family could ask, but that shifts the burden onto the family.”  Read article

07.22.2022 | Newsday | On the other side is the Coalition for Multiple Pathways to a Diploma, another statewide group, which lists more than 80 members. They include Advocates for Children of New York, with a center in Manhattan; Learning Disabilities Association of New York State, Rochester; and Long Island Advocacy Center, New Hyde Park. 

The multiple pathways group supports the Regents' drive to review graduation standards. Representatives said New York is among a minority of states that require students to pass multiple standardized exit exams, and that such tests pose an unnecessary barrier to students who have otherwise completed high school coursework and are ready for college or careers. Read article

07.18.2022 | NY Daily News | Just 9% of students who started ninth-grade in District 75 went on to receive diplomas within six years, according to the Independent Budget Office. Students in the specialized district were more than 10 times as likely than their peers in traditional schools to be handcuffed by police in school between 2018 and 2020, according to data compiled by Advocates for Children. Read article