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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

04.18.2023 | City & State | More than 40 people are positioned to help shape New York City’s transition to smaller class sizes, after the New York City Department of Education announced who will serve on the working group to weigh in on the new state law to gradually phase in stricter limits on New York City class sizes. 

That includes New York City Council Education Committee Chair Rita Joseph; Citizens Budget Commission President Andrew Rein; Johanna Garcia, chief of staff to state Sen. Robert Jackson, who cosponsored the class size bill; Advocates for Children Policy Director Randi Levine and Leonie Haimson, executive director of Class Size Matters. There are also 17 parent representatives. Unions championed the legislation, and while the United Federation of Teachers and the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators will be represented, exactly by who has yet to be determined, according to the DOE. Read article

04.17.2023 | Politico NY Playbook | The Department of Education announced the members of the working group that will offer feedback for DOE leadership on the state’s new class size law. The members include City Council Education Chair Rita Joseph, Randi Levine of Advocates for Children of New York and Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters. Read article

04.14.2023 | Chalkbeat NY | Last year, several families reported that their children did not have special education support by the start of Summer Rising, said Randi Levine, policy director for Advocates for Children. She said it’s “important that planning begin early” so that students aren’t left without the services they need. Read article

04.03.2023 | City Limits | Both advocates and community-based organizations contracted by the city to offer services under Promise NYC argued that discontinuing the program after just six months would be deeply disruptive to the families, and the short-lived stability the aid helped bring. In March, more than 60 organizations called on the mayor to extend the budget for Promise NYC and several other programs that have city funding expiring in June. Read article

03.22.2023 | NY Daily News | Mayor Adams shouldn’t let school programs that help tens of thousands of students expire this year, says a coalition of education advocates, attorneys and other services providers. 

“With the pandemic having exacerbated the need for mental health support for students and with the increase in newly arrived immigrant families, thousands of whom are living in our city’s shelters, the need for these programs has only grown,” read the letter spearheaded by Advocates for Children and signed by more than 60 organizations. Read article

03.22.2023 | Chalkbeat NY | Randi Levine, policy director for Advocates for Children, said her group was happy about the end of the first come, first served enrollment process. She said many families who “needed more support to apply” didn’t get spots, including the very people who were supposed to be prioritized, such as children in shelters. 

“We heard from families living in shelter and immigrant families that they did not know about Summer Rising in time to get seats for their children and heard from staff at shelters that when they went to help families enroll, the seats were already gone.” Read article

03.20.2023 | Chalkbeat NY | Still, advocates argue that families aren’t to blame if nearby schools can’t provide bilingual special education support, noting that traveling long distances to secure services may not be tenable for younger children, and the city’s yellow bus system is notoriously unreliable. Plus, some families simply aren’t offered services at all if there are no available seats, according to Janyll Canals-Kernizan, director of the Robin Hood Project at Advocates for Children, who works with families seeking bilingual special education services.

“It’s not just that families are being offered something and they’re rejecting it because it’s far away. It’s also that [they] are mandated to receive these supports on their IEPs,” she said, “and they just never get it.” Read article

03.15.2023 | Chalkbeat NY | The city says that if a student is absent or late due to a transportation issue, their absence is coded differently in the attendance system to ensure students are not penalized. But absences due to busing issues are still included in citywide chronic absenteeism rates — and the children still miss out on hours worth of instruction. 

Janyll Canals, an attorney at Advocates for Children, echoed this point. “Busing does have an impact on chronic absenteeism for students with special needs,” she said. Read article

03.15.2023 | Gothamist | Still, advocates are calling on city officials to do more than soften blows. “At a time when New York City is receiving an increase in education funding from New York State and continues to have unspent federal COVID-19 relief funding, schools should receive additional resources to meet the needs of their students—and certainly should not lose funding,” said Randi Levine, policy director at Advocates for Children of New York. Read article

03.13.2023 | NY Daily News | “At a time when New York City has seen an increase in immigrant families, the city should be increasing, and certainly not decreasing, funding for this initiative,” said Betty Baez Melo, director of the Early Childhood Education Project at Advocates for Children of New York, “so that children are not excluded from programs based on their immigration status.” 

Roughly 40% of the thousands of newly arrived children are 5-years-old or younger and could lose access to early childhood programs after June, advocates said. Their parents, too, would miss out on child care services that enable them to find work, housing, navigate immigration systems and adjust to life in the city. Read article