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04.18.2018 | On March 23, AFC testified before the New York City Council Committee on Education regarding the Fiscal Year 2019 Preliminary Budget. Read our full testimony [PDF] and click on the links below to learn more about each of AFC's advocacy priorities. 

Support for students who are homeless [PDF
In 2016-17, a record 104,088 New York City students were identified as homeless, yet the FY19 Preliminary Budget would eliminate funding for DOE social workers and other supports for students living in shelters. The final budget must restore and baseline last year's funding to continue these initiatives, and add an additional $20 million to increase the number of DOE social workers dedicated to supporting students who are homeless, provide support to schools through the Field Support Centers, and establish high-level DOE leadership focused on this population.

Along with fifteen leading child advocacy, education, and housing organizations, AFC sent a letter to Mayor de Blasio [PDF], urging him to include a significant infusion of resources in the budget to support students experiencing homelessness. AFC and Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York have also issued Recommendations for Improving School Access and Success for Rising Numbers of Students in Temporary Housing [PDF]. 

On April 16, 30 New York City Council Members and the Council's Progressive Caucus called on the Mayor to increase funding for students who are homeless, sending a letter to City Hall [PDF] in support of these proposals.

Busing for K-6 students in foster care [PDF
Three out of 10 students have to change schools upon their initial placement in foster care in New York City, often because they have no way to get to their original schools. The FY19 budget should include $5 million for yellow bus service for students in grades K-6 in foster care to ensure school remains a source of stability in their lives.

Investments in evidence-based practices to improve school climate [PDF
We urge the City to include $2.8 million per year to launch and sustain a mental health support continuum pilot to help ensure that students in 20 high-needs schools have access to direct mental health services when needed, as well as an additional $1 million per year to implement whole-school Collaborative Problem Solving in 25 high-needs schools.

Increased funding to improve school accessibility [PDF
Given the current lack of fully accessible school buildings, students with physical disabilities have limited options when applying to pre-K, elementary, middle, and high school programs. AFC recommends the City dedicate an additional $125 million towards making 15-17 additional schools fully accessible and improving the accessibility of additional schools through minor renovation projects. 

On March 26, we testified before the New York City Council Committee on Education regarding this proposal. Read our testimony [PDF].

03.23.2018 | On March 28th at 6pm, join the Junior Board of Advocates for Children of New York and NYU Law School's Disability Allied Law Students Association, Education Law & Policy Society, Black Allied Law Students Association, and Suspension Representation Project for a panel discussion on the school-to-prison pipeline. The panel will be moderated by AFC School Justice Project Director Dawn Yuster and will examine the different ways race and disability intersect with school discipline practices, the delivery of special education services, and graduation rates that together shape the school-to-prison pipeline. Please RSVP.

panel flyer

03.15.2018 | Today, Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) and Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York (CCC) called on Mayor de Blasio to provide critical support to students who are homeless, releasing a publication entitled Recommendations for Improving School Access and Success for Rising Numbers of Students in Temporary Housing [PDF].  In addition, sixteen leading child advocacy, education, and housing organizations sent a letter to Mayor de Blasio [PDF] urging him to include a significant infusion of resources in the budget to support these students.

In 2016-2017, a record 104,088 New York City students were identified as homeless—a 50 percent increase from just five years ago.  For the past two years, the Administration included $10.3 million in the budget to support students who are homeless, including funding for 43 Department of Education “Bridging the Gap” social workers to work with students living in shelters at schools with high populations of these students.  These social workers have provided counseling to students, connected them to academic support and mental health services, and worked to improve attendance.  

However, the Mayor’s recent budget proposal did not include any funding to continue these initiatives.  When asked about this omission, the Mayor stated that he was still determining what type of support to include for these students in the 2019 budget.

Given the number of students in temporary housing and the barriers they face to school success, the organizations are urging the Mayor to:

  1. Establish a Deputy Chancellor’s Office for Highly Mobile Students (including students in temporary housing and students in foster care)
  2. Hire Field Support Center Directors for Highly Mobile Students
  3. Increase the number of DOE Bridging the Gap school-based social workers for students in shelters from 43 social workers to 100
  4. Hire 50 DOE social workers to provide intensive supports at shelters to address education-related issues 

“With more than 100,000 students homeless, we have a crisis situation that demands high-level leadership from the Department of Education,” said Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children.  “The Mayor’s goals of equity and excellence require bold action to help ensure that students who are homeless can get to school every day and receive the counseling and academic support they need to succeed.” 

“The family homelessness crisis demands that City leaders take additional steps to better support homeless children both get to school and succeed in school,” said Jennifer March, Executive Director of Citizens’ Committee for Children.  “This starts with restoring the funding currently supporting social workers, but must also include prioritizing the needs of homeless students and investing in additional supports to reduce absenteeism and help homeless students thrive.”

View news release as a PDF

02.13.2018 | On February 12, 2018, AFC submitted testimony for the New York State Joint Legislative Public Hearing on the 2018-2019 Health Budget proposal, urging legislators to increase the reimbursement rate for Early Intervention providers and to reject a budget proposal to restructure the Early Intervention screening and evaluation process. View testimony [PDF]

Previously, on January 31, AFC testified at the hearing on the 2018-2019 Elementary and Secondary Education Budget proposal, urging state legislators to increase investments in education initiatives such as positive approaches to discipline, prekindergarten, and support for English Language Learners and to reject harmful special education proposals. View testimony [PDF]

02.01.2018 | Today, Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), issued the following statement in response to the release of the City’s Fiscal Year 2019 Preliminary Budget: 

We are appalled that the Mayor’s Preliminary Budget would eliminate funding for the DOE Bridging the Gap social workers for students living in shelters. Just yesterday, while testifying in Albany, Chancellor Fariña highlighted these social workers as a key accomplishment.  The Bridging the Gap social workers are providing critical support to students who are homeless, including providing counseling services, connecting students with academic support, and helping to combat chronic absenteeism.

Over the past five years, the number of students in temporary housing in NYC schools has increased by 50 percent to more than 100,000 students. During this time period, the only increase in DOE staffing targeted to serving this population was the addition of the 43 Bridging the Gap social workers who are only funded through the end of the 2017-2018 school year.  

The high number of students in temporary housing is a crisis that requires more of the City’s attention and resources. We call on the City to appoint high-level leadership, including a DOE Deputy Chancellor for Highly Mobile Students, to drive system-wide change; to fund 100 Bridging the Gap social workers to assist students living in shelters at schools with high populations of these students; and to begin placing DOE social workers at shelters, including the new shelters the City is opening, to help address barriers to education. Such an infusion of leadership and resources is needed to achieve equity and excellence for students who are homeless.

View statement as a PDF

12.22.2017 | In the fall of 2017, AFC with Greenberg Traurig, LLP filed federal complaints against the New York City Department of Education on behalf of four parents whose children did not receive the nursing services that they required to attend school. As a result of the lack of nursing services, two of the students were unable to attend school for two or more years. The complaints allege that the DOE’s failure to provide nursing services is a result of systemic problems within the DOE. The court in one instance had to issue an injunction ordering the DOE to provide the necessary nursing, transportation, and porter services for a student, noting at the hearing that the student’s denial of education over the past two years is a “Dickensian saga.”

Read the complaint [PDF]

View coverage by NBC New York

guide cover12.19.2017 | Advocates for Children has a new guide on preventing and addressing bullying! This guide describes bullying behavior and signs a child may be bullied. It also includes the education rights of students who are bullied or engaged in bullying behavior and attend NYC Department of Education schools, including special protections for students with disabilities. 

View the guide [PDF]

first page of data brief11.02.2017 | Today, Advocates for Children of New York is releasing a brief analyzing data reported by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) showing that Black students are significantly over-represented in NYPD “child in crisis” interventions – incidents involving students in emotional distress sent to the hospital for psychological evaluation.  The new data brief, entitled Children in Crisis: Police Response to Students in Emotional Distress [PDF], scrutinizes data made public as part of 2015 amendments to the Student Safety Act that require reporting of enhanced information on police activities involving students in New York City public schools. The brief examines the demographic characteristics of students involved in child in crisis interventions, as well as the NYPD’s use of handcuffs on students as young as 5 years old during these incidents between July 2016 and June 2017.

Read the news release [PDF]
Read the data brief [PDF]

11.01.2017 |  Today, Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), issued the following statement in response to the New York City Department of Education’s annual report of information regarding students receiving special education services pursuant to Local Law 27: 

In reviewing the data just released by the DOE and comparing it to data for the past two years, we are struck by how little has changed. We are still seeing unacceptably low percentages of students receiving timely special education evaluations and IEP meetings—essentially the same as in prior years.

We are heartened to see that the percentage of students fully receiving special education services increased from 59 percent last year to 73 percent this year. However, the fact remains that over 25 percent of students with disabilities—nearly 50,000 students—are still going without all of the special education services they are entitled to receive under law.  

At a time when we see significant numbers of students with disabilities in NYC unable to meet curricular expectations, it is not surprising that the data continues to show considerable delays and deficits in special education evaluations, IEP meetings, and delivery of services. For example, while every student should leave school being able to read, only 10 percent of students with disabilities in NYC demonstrated proficiency in English Language Arts on last year’s third through eighth grade state exams. Unless and until the 193,361 students with disabilities in NYC schools receive the supports they require, those students will continue to lag behind their general education peers in critical academic areas.

The measure of a good school system is one that makes sure that all its students, including those with greater needs, receive the supports and services necessary for success. NYC has a lot of work to do.

View as PDF

10.30.17 | Today, AFC testified before the City Council Education Committee offering several recommendations to prevent and address bullying behavior, including expanding whole-school trainings that improve school climate, better utilizing existing data, better utilizing Field Support Center personnel, increasing awareness of anti-bullying resources, and improving reporting. View testimony [PDF]