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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

01.31.2017 | Chalkbeat New York | Legal experts have argued Trump’s order is patently unconstitutional, questions loom about how much funding the president can actually withhold, and de Blasio has vowed to fight it. But education advocates said that even marginal funding reductions could harm the city’s most vulnerable students. “The loss of funding would have a devastating impact on schools,” said Randi Levine, policy director at Advocates for Children. “The city relies on federal funding to support students with disabilities, students who are homeless, and students from low-income backgrounds.” Read article

01.25.2017 | Politico New York | The funding change leaves the fate of 30 new social workers hired to support schools with particularly high homeless populations unclear, and leaves new attendance teachers and literacy programs in homeless shelters in limbo....“It’s unrealistic to expect these new programs for students in temporary housing to have had a demonstrated impact when the social workers and other staff have just recently been hired. With only one year of funding, these programs have barely had a chance to get off the ground. The city should be increasing supports for students who are homeless, not taking them away.” —Kim Sweet, the executive director of Advocates for Children Read article

01.18.2017 | Chalkbeat New York | Advocates for Children, which helps secure services for students with disabilities and low-income families, expressed concern that DeVos appeared to be confused about how the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act works. “It is really troubling for Ms. DeVos to say that enforcement of the rights of students with disabilities should be left to the states,” AFC Executive Director Kim Sweet wrote in an email to Chalkbeat. “Even though she seemed to correct herself when she heard that a federal law guarantees these students their rights, her remarks show an inclination toward minimizing the federal role that could leave students with disabilities very vulnerable.” Read article

01.13.2017 | Chalkbeat New York | Though suspensions in that age group have fallen in recent years — down to 801 last school year from nearly 1,500 the year before — the new policy is likely to have a dramatic impact. Officials said that if the proposed discipline code had been in place last year, just 25 students in grades K-2 would have been suspended. “These changes are promising,” wrote Dawn Yuster, the school justice project director at Advocates for Children. “Students, regardless of their age, should not be forced to miss weeks, months, or a year of valuable instruction time.” Read article

01.12.2017 | NY1 | Emmanuel has cerebral palsy and other impairments. He qualified for special education preschool in September – but instead of learning in a classroom, he's been sitting at home. That's nearly four months of missed educational opportunities... Randi Levine is with Advocates for Children of New York and says her group has received an increasing number of complaints against the education department from parents whose children have been forced to stay home, partially because of a nursing shortage. Keeping children home, she says, can affect social and cognitive development, with life-long implications. Read article

12.09.2016 | The New York Times | Last year, 99,196 students in the city’s traditional public schools, or nearly 10 percent of students, were classified as being in temporary housing, according to data from the New York State Technical and Education Assistance Center for Homeless Students, known as NYS-TEACHS, which is funded by the State Education Department and administered by Advocates for Children, a nonprofit group. At the same time, 6,249 students, or roughly 7 percent, in city charter schools were in temporary housing. 

The major cause of the disparity, most people agree, is the way charter schools admit students... Charter enrollment “will always disadvantage kids in temporary housing,” Jennifer Pringle, the director of NYS-TEACHS, said. “You have a kid who’s placed in a shelter where the local traditional public school is co-located with a charter school,” she explained. “You can enroll midyear in the traditional public school, but you can’t enroll in that charter school if they don’t have available seats.” Read article

12.09.2016 | Public News Service | More students with disabilities could graduate from high school-level programs if state policymakers would maximize access to career and trade education, according to a new report. Last year, fewer than 50 percent of students with disabilities in New York state graduated from high school in four years, compared with 83 percent of general-education students. But Sam Streed, policy analyst for Advocates for Children, said his group's new report found graduation rates are much higher from career and technical education (CTE) programs. "What we see is that that gap for students with disabilities in CTE is cut about in half," he said, "and all of those things that speak well of CTE are conferred upon students with disabilities, as well as general-education students." Read article

11.11.2016 | Equality Indicators | Deep in the trenches of this issue is NYC-based, Advocates for Children of New York. Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) works closely with students, teachers, parents, school administrators, city agencies, and other advocates on finding solutions to student misbehavior beyond punitive and exclusionary measures. The School Justice Project of AFC works to reduce the number of suspensions, summonses, and arrests in New York City schools, while increasing the use of positive alternatives that promote social-emotional development and provide behavioral interventions and support.  The Equality Indicators got a chance to speak with Dawn Yuster, School Justice Project Director, on what AFC is doing to improve outcomes for NYC public school students’ faced with suspension and law enforcement interventions in school. Read article

11.01.2016 | Chalkbeat New York | Just 59 percent of students received the full range of services required on their individualized education programs, or IEPs, compared with 60 percent the previous school year. And 33 percent, or roughly 58,000 students, received only partial services — down from 35 percent. The number of students who received no services, despite being recommended for them, rose from 5 to 8 percent, or almost 14,000 students. “That’s really disheartening,” said Maggie Moroff, a special education policy expert at Advocates for Children. “But I think it’s also a big wake-up call. The fact that they’re doing the reporting and that it’s public and people are looking at it is a good thing.” Read article

11.01.2016 | Public News Service | According to Dawn Yuster, school justice project director at Advocates for Children of New York, black students still are being suspended at a rate more than three-and-a-half-times greater than white students...Just as striking is the disproportionate number of students with disabilities being suspended. Yuster pointed out that students with disabilities are less than 20 percent of the student body, but were more than 38 percent of the total number of suspensions. "What we're seeing is that students who need the most help: behavioral supports, mental health supports, are not getting the kind of help that they need," she added.

Disparities in suspensions are a nationwide problem. Yuster noted that the federal Department of Education has released guidelines for devising alternatives to suspension. And Advocates for Children of New York is calling on the city and other advocates to strategically invest in finding ways to keep students in the classroom and learning. "We strongly believe implementing restorative practices on a large-scale basis, collaborative problem-solving, will promote positive school climates and also reduce the racial disparities," she said. Read article