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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

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

03.12.2022 | SI Advance | “I think the transition back to school just generally has been difficult for a lot of students, and then all the uncertainty with [school] closures and omicron. It’s just been challenging for a lot of students who we work with,” Rohini Singh, a staff attorney in the School Justice Project for Advocates for Children of New York, recently told the Advance/SILive.com when asked about data that shows an increase in Interventions and arrests among Staten Island students during the last quarter of 2021 compared to the same time in 2019 — before the coronavirus impacted schools. 

Singh explained that there needs to be a “real acknowledgement” of the trauma students and staff went through during the pandemic. Read article

03.02.2022 | City & State | In an emailed statement responding to Banks’ speech, Advocates for Children of New York – an advocacy group focused on students most at risk of discrimination and experiencing poor educational outcomes – said that this is one way remote learning options could be useful. “Virtual learning means that individual students don’t need to be limited by the training and expertise of the staff who happen to work in their school,” the group’s statement read. “For example, a teacher with training in evidence-based reading intervention at one school could be matched with students at multiple schools who need support learning to read.” Read article

03.01.2022 | Chalkbeat NY | Students with disabilities “not only have to meet those screening thresholds that their more typical peers have to meet, but then there needs to be the perfect overlay of physical accessibility,” said Maggie Moroff, who works on special education issues for Advocates for Children. “We know often that families make choices: ‘All right, this is the perfect school for my child except she can’t get into the library, or she’s going to eat lunch in the faculty lounge.’” Read article

02.25.2022 | SI Live | Singh explained that Advocates for Children of New York has been pushing for investment in restorative practices, social-emotional support, mental health, targeted mental health support and more. Those investments would mean that when a student is experiencing a behavioral challenge, instead of being met with a suspension, he or she would be met with the intervention needed — whether it’s referrals to a mental health center or clinic, or to the social worker in a school, or a trusted adult to help de-escalate a situation. 

“Even though a program that has been announced or has been launched, it takes some time for folks on the ground and for principals to buy into programs to really take advantage of them, for things to get up and running. And so I think it might be some time before we see results from the data, but we hope that the city continues to proactively provide social-emotional and mental health supports for students and move away from disciplinary practices,” Singh added. Read article

02.20.2022 | NY Daily News | “It’s really frustrating because the office of special education has put this out there as an opportunity for kids with disabilities … but if the providers aren’t ready and able then not a lot can happen, and the providers can’t be ready and able if the [Education Department] isn’t paying them or taking too long to pay them,” said Maggie Moroff, the special education policy director at Advocates for Children. Read article

02.18.2022 | Chalkbeat NY | Cutting vacant positions drew concern from advocacy organization Advocates for Children, which has petitioned the education department to hire more staffers to support homeless students, children in foster care, and those learning English as a new language. 

“We’ve seen the impact of past hiring freezes on the students we serve—it’s taken longer for students who are homeless to get a school placement, for students with disabilities to get a bus route, and for parents to get help navigating through roadblocks their children encounter,” said Randi Levine, policy director for Advocates for Children. Read article