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Sharon has a learning disability and recently graduated from high school thanks to AFC's assistance securing the support she needed to learn.

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10.22.2014 | Chalkbeat New York | Advocates for Children of New York Executive Director Kim Sweet said her organization would lend its support to the bill, which she said could spur improvements to services for city students, when it is discussed next week. “We will be testifying in support of the effort to make public the delays in service provision and to hold the DOE accountable for those delays,” Sweet said. Read article

10.15.2014 | Chalkbeat New York | Still, they reflect the new demands that have been placed on schools by the city’s special-education overhaul, which calls for neighborhood schools to serve special-needs students whom they might have referred elsewhere in the past, and to try to place those students in classes alongside their non-disabled peers whenever possible. The new policies had already been in effect for a year when these complaints were filed in 2013 and similar problems continue to crop up today, advocates say. “We’re still getting cases that sound just like ones we were getting two years ago as they were just starting to roll this out,” said Maggie Moroff, special education policy coordinator at Advocates for Children, who backs the city’s new inclusion policies but said many schools still struggle to carry them out. “Something gets lost in translation,” she said. Read article

10.15.2014 | Chalkbeat New York | The city is failing to provide thousands of services to students with disabilities, and the shortfall is worst in some of the city’s poorest and least accessible neighborhoods, new data shows...the process of turning a referral into reality can be frustrating to parents everywhere, who say they must advocate for their child to get the services in school or arrange for outside therapies themselves. In many cases, it takes weeks or months to match a student with a provider. "Already, we’re receiving calls because students had no services in place for the first month," said Maggie Moroff, special education policy coordinator at Advocates for Children New York, which operates a helpline for parents. Read article

10.14.2014 | The New York Law Journal | Finding the right educational services for a child with a disability isn't supposed to require an attorney. But it may when collaboration between parents and public school breaks down. That's when Caroline J. Heller, a partner at Greenberg Traurig, steps in. Heller, 41, heads Greenberg Traurig's pro bono program in New York and specializes in complex commercial litigation. Since 2006, she has devoted most of her volunteer legal work to helping low-income parents maneuver through a maze of federal and state laws to win the educational services to which their disabled children are entitled...Partnering with Advocates for Children in New York, Heller has represented some 20 children with disabilities in dozens of proceedings. In five instances, she appealed administrative decisions to federal court. She won two of those cases, settled another and has two more pending. So important is the issue to her that she joined the board of Advocates for Children in 2012. Read article

10.01.2014 | ABC Eyewitness News | Policy changes are coming to New York City schools after a 5-year-old special-needs student was tied up as part of a punishment for acting out at his Bronx school, and the incident was caught on cell phone video... "In the video, what we see is he's not a danger to himself or others," children's advocate Bernard Dufresne said. "He's sitting there with his hands behind his back, and there are school safety officers surrounding him." View article

09.26.2014 | Tuscon Sentinel | “Some of these students may be staying here in the long run,” said Kim Sweet, executive director of the Advocates for Children of New York, a non-profit that focuses on education access. Unemployment drops from an average of 14 percent among adults without a high school degree to a little over 4 percent among those with a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to the NCES. The national unemployment rate hovers around 7 percent. “It benefits our country to have an educated adult force," Sweet said. Read article

09.18.2014 | Wall Street Journal | Kim Sweet, executive director of Advocates for Children of New York, said it was critical for school staff to know how to proceed in such emergencies, and the training requirements of Avonte's Law were the most important element. The law requires that the report to the City Council spell out the type of safety training given and to whom. "Even if an alarm goes off, staff has to know what to do," Ms. Sweet said. Judging by the details of Nashaly's case, she added, school staff "are not communicating and not following protocols and something needs to be changed to make sure kids are safe." Read article

09.12.2014 | New York Post | About one in four NYC middle-school students — 52,292 out of 227,474 — are at least one year older than their peers because they repeated a grade, according to figures obtained by Advocates for Children of New York. And 8,644 junior-high students are at least three years older than other kids in their classes because they were held back several times. But the city provides only 446 seats in alternative programs for students who want to enter ninth grade but are more than 15 years old, according to city data. Overage middle schoolers are twice as likely to drop out, studies show. “They’re significantly older than their peers, they’re stuck with students who are 11 to 13 years old, and most of the Department of Education’s options are not available to them,” said Ashley Grant, a lawyer for the advocacy group, which got the data through a Freedom of Information filing. Read article

09.10.2014 | SchoolBook | Middle school students in New York City's public schools who are held back a year or more generally are not getting the support they need to succeed in school, according to a report released Wednesday by the Advocates for Children of New York. Without extra attention, these students are about two to 11 times more likely to drop out. "They're stuck in limbo until many of them give up and drop out," said the group's executive director, Kim Sweet. Read article

09.10.2014 | Chalkbeat | Nearly a quarter of the city’s middle-school students — or more than 50,000 pupils — have been held back from moving to the next grade at least once in their school careers, according to a new report by Advocates for Children of New York, which provides free legal and advocacy services for families. Last school year, more than 8,600 middle-school students were, like Daniel, three or more years older than most of their classmates...For a new schools chancellor who has made middle schools a priority, these older middle-school students present a daunting test. Like Daniel, they are more likely than other students to have a disability, to be black or Hispanic, and to attend a school in a low-income area, according to the report, which analyzed demographic data from the 2011-12 school year. The path to graduation for these students can look bleak: They have lower attendance rates than their peers and are two to 11 times more likely to drop out of school, according to statistics cited in the report. Read article