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Christiana 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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AFC in the News

10.06.2015 | Chalkbeat New York | Some of the most difficult students to serve are off-track middle-school students, which account for about 18 percent of eighth-grade students. Overage middle-school students have lower attendance rates and are more likely to drop out of school, according to a report last year by Advocates for Children of New York. The report also found that options for these students are limited, with about 450 slots available in programs that specifically serve off-track middle-school students. Read article

09.30.2015 | Public News Service | Children's advocates are calling a bill requiring the New York City Department of Education to make information about school discipline public a model for the nation. Police serve as safety officers in public schools and discipline can include arrests as well as suspensions. According to Kim Sweet, executive director of Advocates for Children of New York, the current law does give some data on the frequency and type of discipline taking place in the schools. "But there were big holes in that data," she said, "and this important law will close a lot of those holes and make it more understandable for all of us to see what's going on in the schools." Read article

09.17.2015 | City Limits | Said Kim Sweet, executive director of Advocates for Children, which often sues the city on behalf of parents of children with special needs, the mayor’s emphasis on literacy as a way to equality struck the right note. "For a mayor who wants to address equality, teaching children to read is a great place to start," said Sweet. Every year her office fields phone calls from parents of students who are falling further behind. While students of means tend to get the support they need, "students from low-income families often flounder and fall further and further behind and never really learn the basic skills they need to function." AFC was pleased to see the investment in reading specialists, "we're hoping it can spread into middle school and high school as well," said Sweet. Read article

08.25.2015 | City Limits | The "summer slide" impacts students in different ways. Science and math losses are widespread, and slips in literacy affect students to varying degrees. But students with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to regression; without consistent services, disabled students often face the prospect of more severe losses in the summer than their peers. According to advocates for the parents of these public school students, securing services from the DOE can be a struggle during the summer months. Read article

08.17.2015 | Public News Service | More New York state third through eighth graders passed the Common Core standardized tests in both English and math this year, but not everyone is improving at the same rate. Over the last two years, a much smaller percentage of children with disabilities and those learning English have received passing grades. Maggie Moroff, a special education policy coordinator at Advocates for Children of New York, says the gap between those students and their peers has grown larger. "There were slight bump ups for both English language learners and students with disabilities, but there were larger bump ups across the state,” she points out. “So, the discrepancy is growing." Read article

08.12.2015 | Chalkbeat New York | Meanwhile, Advocates for Children of New York called the proficiency rates for the city’s English language learners — 4 percent in English, under 15 percent in math — “devastating.” Proficiency rates among students with disabilities actually declined slightly in math, the organization noted, and achievement gaps between those students and their peers in general education were growing. “This is unacceptable,” it said in a statement. Read article

08.06.2015 | PIX 11 News | School Justice Project Director Dawn Yuster appeared on PIX 11 News, discussing school discipline and the rights of students with disabilities in light of a case in Kentucky involving the handcuffing of a young student with ADHD. Watch segment

07.27.2015 | WNYC Schoolbook | Every school has access to over-the-phone interpretation services, but the NYIC surveyed 175 parents this year and found that only six percent of them had ever used it. “Language Line is available in more than 200 languages,” said Abja Midha, Project Director for Immigrant Students’ Rights at Advocates for Children, the second firm that filed the 2012 suit. “This is a great resource the city has available and that schools have available in order to communicate with parents.” The NYIC’s survey, which came out last month, found that more than half of parents had used their children or other students as interpreters. According to Midha, even when there is interpretation, many times it’s unprofessional. She said many times teachers or school psychologists serve as untrained interpreters, often telling parents what to do and not being neutral. Read article

07.15.2015 | Chalkbeat New York | Rubel worries that English language learners and students with disabilities could be disproportionately affected. Of the roughly 9,600 English language learners who took the new test in 2014, when the old test was available as a safety net, 26 percent passed. Of the larger group who took the old exam over three test administrations last school year — more than 23,700 students — half passed. “To see these numbers I think really raises some concerns about what graduation rates will look like in the next couple of years, especially in New York City, which has such a large population of high-need students,” said Christian Villenas, a senior policy analyst with Advocates for Children of New York. “This is very troubling.” Read article

07.13.2015 | Chalkbeat New York | Finally, she contacted the nonprofit Advocates for Children, which flagged her case for the education department in February. Amira finally was evaluated the next month — two years after Barrett’s first request. “Two years in the life of a six-year-old is a third of her life,” said Maggie Moroff, Advocates for Children’s special education policy coordinator. An education department spokesman said that while privacy laws prevent the agency from commenting on individual cases, it is committed to making sure all students get the help they need. But Moroff said the city had fumbled Barrett’s case. “This is a parent who did everything right,” she said. “And it just wasn’t happening.” Read article