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AFC in the News

10.18.2016 | The 74 Million | One in 10: That’s how many New York City students experienced homelessness in the past school year, according to statistics released Monday on a burgeoning student population that often experiences devastating academic performance. The total for the 2015–16 school year, 105,445, is a 22 percent jump from 2014–15, when 86,694 homeless students attended New York City schools, according to state data released Monday by the New York State Technical and Education Assistance Center for Homeless Students (NYS-TEACHS)...

Jennifer Pringle, program director at NYS-TEACHS, called the spike “disturbing” and said the increase likely can be attributed both to better identification of homeless students and to an actual uptick in displacement...“Sustained efforts are needed to support kids experiencing homelessness,” Pringle said. “This is not a problem that’s going away anytime soon.” Read article

10.18.2016 | New York Daily News | A staggering 105,445 homeless students attended city schools in the 2015-16 year, up from 86,694 in the 2014-15 school year, according to data posted online Monday by the New York State Technical and Education Assistance Center for Homeless Students (NYS-TEACHS), a project of the nonprofit Advocates for Children of New York...NYS-TEACHS analyst Emily Kramer said the explosion in the number of homeless city students reported to the state could be due to better accounting as well as economic reality. “There has been a steady increase over the past number of years and a sharp increase in the most recent data,” Kramer said. “Despite the recovery from the Great Recession, low-income families continue to struggle to find permanent housing.” Read article

10.12.2016 | Village Voice | As the rate of homelessness in New York City has reached a record high, with around 60,000 people living in shelters, the effects on the 30,000 children in the system are devastating. Students often move multiple times on short notice, and because the system is so stretched, they’re housed farther from their “school of origin,” which increases commute time and makes them late to class. They also face emotional trauma: Some 60 percent of the homeless students were either “chronically absent” or “severely chronically absent,” according to a report released Tuesday by the city’s Independent Budget Office...“This isn’t a surprise,” says Randi Levine, an early-childhood expert at Advocates for Children of New York City. “The report confirms the data that we’ve seen over recent years that students who are homeless have poor rates of attendance at schools and poor school outcomes.” Read article

09.30.2016 | Chalkbeat New York | “The city has expanded Pre-K For All and sought to ensure there is a prekindergarten seat for every child in the city,” said Randi Levine, an early childhood expert at Advocates for Children, which worked on Mikel’s case. “Parents, advocates, and providers are concerned that we have not done enough to ensure there is a preschool seat available for every preschooler with a disability who needs one.”...

Providers across the city have reported increasing demand for special ed preschool, and there appear to be shortages affecting entire boroughs. In one case, the city told a parent there were no seats available for a six-student special education class anywhere in Queens, Levine said, even though that is the type of program listed on the child’s individualized education plan. In the meantime, that child is at home and receiving no services. Read article

09.29.2016 | New York Amsterdam News | Director of the School Justice Project for AFC, Dawn Yuster, urges the city to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline and invest in restorative practices. “There were 93 children in emotional crisis that were handcuffed, all of those students were students of color,” Yuster said. “We hope the city will adopt a pilot program that would invest in comprehensive mental health services in high-need schools, including hospital-based clinics.” Yuster said the arrests and summonses are “terribly traumatic” for students and families. Last year, Yuster recalled that a 9-year-old student with disabilities was held by the NYPD in Velcro handcuffs. “It was devastating to the family to see their child in this situation,” Yuster said. “It traumatizes the child for life.” Yuster advises schools to provide crisis de-escalation training to public safety officers and faculty. Read article

09.22.2016 | Chalkbeat New York | In New York City, as of 2013, students enrolled in CTE schools were more likely to graduate than those who were not, a finding that’s especially true for students with disabilities or who are learning English. But Sam Streed, a policy analyst with Advocates for Children, said steps need to be taken to make sure those students get into CTE programs in the first place. “We cannot tell from public data whether they have equitable access to the full range of available programs,” he said, in prepared remarks. Read article

09.19.2016 | Public News Service | School crime hit a record low in the second quarter of 2016, and fewer students were arrested overall. But Dawn Yuster, school justice project director at Advocates for Children of New York, said the vast majority of those involved with police while in school were students of color. "New York City needs to develop and implement a long-overdue strategy plan to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline, in which black and Hispanic students are disproportionately arrested, handcuffed, issued summonses and suspended from school,” Yuster said. Advocates for Children is asking the city to revise the Memorandum of Understanding between the NYPD and the Department of Education to decriminalize student misbehavior by clearly delineating the roles of school administrators and police. According to Yuster, students as young as 16 are issued summonses to appear in court for minor misbehavior that isn't criminal. Read article

09.15.2016 | Wall Street Journal | Several advocacy groups applauded the declines but said the school system must do more to stop the disproportionate arrests of black and Latino students. Advocates for Children of New York, an antidiscrimination organization, said more staff must be trained to defuse crises, and the city needs a more comprehensive plan to address racial disparities in discipline. Read article

09.15.2016 | Chalkbeat New York | Several other advocacy organizations, including Advocates for Children and the New York Civil Liberties Union, also independently called on the city to come up with a comprehensive plan to significantly reduce racial disparities in student interactions with police...Roughly 250 summonses were issued to students, many of them for minor offenses such as disorderly conduct or marijuana possession. Some of the students were as young as 16, and more than half of them were black. Students issued summonses at school can become ensnared in the criminal justice system, explained Advocates for Children, for “minor misbehavior that does not rise the level of a crime.” Read article

09.09.2016 | DNA Info | Charter schools, however, also give out limited access letters, according to Randi Levine, of Advocates for Children, whose organization gets occasional complaints about the process from parents at traditional public schools and charters. Advocates for Children recently worked with a family from an Upper Manhattan public school given a limited access letter after the father sought the nonprofit's legal assistance because the school wasn’t providing his child mandated special needs services. “We think the letter was used in retaliation,” Levine said. "We think parent involvement is critical for a school’s success and schools should make every effort to work with them and not ban them," she added. Read article