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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

01.31.2018 | City Limits | In the 2016-17 school year, between 31 and 35 homeless preschool students in New York City were receiving special education services, from 17 in the Bronx to none in Staten Island, according to data from NYS Student Information Repository System (SIRS). The data was released by NYS-TEACHS, a project from Advocates for Children, an organization supporting NYC children and groups susceptible to discriminatory policies and actions... [H]omeless students could inadvertently lose out on special education services when families confront a complex evaluation process for assessing the need for special ed coupled with the instability inherent to life in the shelter system. “It’s easy for children to slip through the cracks and not get timely evaluation,” she says, citing the time-consuming process of getting an Individualized Education Program, or IEP, the legal document that stipulates the services a school must provide for a child in special education. “For preschool students in general, we do see backlogs and delays at the stage of evaluation and at the stage of IEP development. There are particular challenges for certain populations,” including homeless families. Read article

01.16.2018 | WBAI Radio | Equal Justice Works fellow Gena Miller spoke with WBAI Radio's The Morning Show about bullying in New York City public schools, particularly as it affects LGBTQ students. Listen to the segement: 

01.02.2018 | Al Jazeera | AFC Policy Director Randi Levine was interviewed for this segment on the rising number of New York City students experiencing homelessness.

12.21.2017 | Huffington Post | Throughout 2017, immigrants across the nation have faced threats of deportation and discrimination from Washington. In New York City, many of our grantee partners have been working to make sure the city’s schools are safe places for young immigrants. Advocates for Children received support earlier this year to push for the City Department of Education to prevent United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents from entering school buildings or accessing student records. Other long-time Trust grantees including the New York Immigration Coalition and Make the Road New York have been pressing city officials to ensure widespread protections for immigrant families. These efforts produced tangible results when the Mayor announced that the city was sharing a detailed protocol for schools on how to respond to law enforcement requests from ICE authorities. The protocol is one of many local policies aimed at supporting New York City’s immigrant communities in the wake of heightened discrimination. Read article

12.20.2017 | NBC New York | Parents of children with disabilities are suing the city Department of Education, which they say has denied their children an education by failing to provide the support services they need. Melissa Russo reports in an I-Team exclusive. Watch segment

12.14.2017 | amNewYork | “The number of homeless students in New York City is twice the size of the Boston Public School system,” said Randi Levine, policy director of Advocates for Children of New York, which put out the report. The data includes students living in shelters or other temporary housing, such as in a hotel or “doubled up” with family or friends... Because students have to get used to new routines, teachers and peers when they start a new school, their performance can suffer, Levine said. “Students perform better when they stay in their schools,” she said. According to Advocates for Children, “15 percent of third through eighth grade students living in shelters scored proficiently in reading and only 12 percent scored proficiently in math” in the 2015-2016 school year. Overall, 40.6 percent of third- through eighth-graders in the city scored proficiently in English and 37.8 percent scored proficiently in math, according to the Department of Education. Read article

12.14.2017 | Chalkbeat New York | “We do worry that in the hands of an unskilled teacher that kids will not necessarily feel welcomed and they’ll still be separated out and made to feel different” said Maggie Moroff, a disability policy expert at Advocates for Children. “It’s pretty exciting to me to see that’s not necessarily true.”... Surprisingly, it made little difference whether students with disabilities were in “self-contained” classes — essentially classes comprised only of students with disabilities — or were in classrooms that included non-disabled peers: Both groups reported similar feelings of inclusion. (The findings don’t include students in District 75, a separate set of schools that are even less inclusive, since the schools themselves are only for students with disabilities.) Moroff, the special education advocate, said the finding surprised her and noted it could reflect that students in more segregated settings aren’t necessarily aware of more inclusive models. “It’s very possible there that there’s a level of interaction they’re not having,” Moroff said, “that they don’t even expect to be taking place.” Read article

12.13.2017 | NY1 | At DeWitt Clinton High School, 20 students were granted transfers to other schools in one year because they feared for their safety. 18 students were granted safety transfers from Life Sciences Secondary High School in Manhattan, and 17 from both Abraham Lincoln High in Brooklyn and the Bronx Leadership Academy. "That's rather alarming. That seems like a very high number that actually got the transfers," said Dawn Yuster of Advocates for Children of New York... Advocates say the numbers of students granted transfers might be a fraction of those who want one. "And what about the ones who are left behind, who in are in clearly — it seems to indicate a culture or climate that is not conducive to learning, and not supporting students," Yuster said. Read article

12.06.2017 | Chalkbeat New York | “Year after year, kids either didn’t have transition plans,” said Maggie Moroff, a disability policy expert at Advocates for Children, “or they had transition plans that were meaningless.” Now, the city has come up with a new way to improve this transition: The education department is gradually opening centers in every borough staffed with experts who can directly help students with disabilities plan for life after high school, while also training school personnel on how to guide families through the process...Advocates said they are cautiously optimistic about the new centers, with the caveat that it will be important to track whether students ultimately have more meaningful experiences after they leave the system. “It’s a big job,” said Moroff, the disability-policy expert. “This isn’t just about getting kids to graduation — it’s about what happens after graduation.” Read article

11.14.2017 | Chalkbeat New York | Some also pointed out that the information is difficult to find. The city’s official high school directory only says whether schools are “accessible” or “not accessible,” a potentially misleading indicator given that most schools fall somewhere in between. And the city’s “School Finder” site, essentially a digital version of the directory, does not link to the new accessibility data, though a spokesman said that information will be included in future updates. “This is all really, really valuable information,” said Maggie Moroff, a special education policy expert at Advocates for Children. “But if families don’t have a way of getting to it easily, it doesn’t do them a whole lot of good.”... Still, there are significant upsides to the new data — and not just for parents. More detailed information about building infrastructure could help the city better-allocate capital funding to schools that might only need modest improvements to become significantly more accessible, Moroff said. The city’s current five-year capital plan includes $100 million for such improvements. Read article