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Gabriel needed an appropriate placement and special education services for kindergarten.

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06.07.2016 | A coalition of national, statewide and local organizations today urged passage of A.8396, the Judge Judith S. Kaye Safe and Supportive School Act, New York legislation aimed at promoting positive school climates and reducing racial discipline disparities. Their remarks come on the heels of new national data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Eights (OCR) showing persistent racial disparities in student suspensions and expulsions. 

“The U.S. Department of Education data is clear that Black girls are especially vulnerable to racially-biased discipline and school policing, even as young learners. While Black girls make up only 20 percent of preschool enrollment, they are half of preschool girls who receive out-of-school suspensions. When we see such racial disparities in these early years, we know that new approaches are needed,” said Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York. “The findings confirm that we must support reforms included in the Safe and Supportive Schools Act and continue to work on behalf of children who are at greatest risk for school-based discrimination due to their race.”

View full statement from the New York Coalition for Safe & Supportive Schools

05.24.2016 | Today, AFC is testifying about the city budget before the City Council Committee on Finance, asking that the final budget include increased funding for DOE social workers for students living in shelters and for restorative justice programs. View testimony

05.24.2016 | The New York Bar Foundation recently presented a grant of $6,200 to Advocates for Children of New York. The grant will be used to support their Assistance for Children with Disabilities program. “The support of the New York Bar Foundation will help make it possible for us to provide legal services to low-income students and families who have nowhere else to turn,” states Kim Sweet, executive director of Advocates for Children.  The goal for all of AFC’s work is that children succeed in schools and programs that provide appropriate levels of challenge and support.

View press release from the New York Bar Foundation

05.19.2016 | As the New York State Senate Education Committee holds a hearing today on mayoral control of New York City schools, Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), released the following statement supporting a long-term extension of mayoral control: 

As a watchdog agency working to protect the rights of students, we know that there is substantial room for improvement in our public schools. But we also know that mayoral control has led to an infusion of attention and resources that has produced results for our City’s students and schools. Having monitored the City’s school system before and after mayoral control went into effect, we strongly support a long-term extension of mayoral control.

By various indicators, we have seen steady improvement in student outcomes under mayoral control. We have seen these gains for the student population as a whole as well as for subgroups of students such as students with disabilities. We have also seen mayoral initiatives, like Pre-K for All and the expansion of community schools, which would not have been possible without the ability to marshal the resources of various city agencies.

We have not agreed with every decision that Mayor Bloomberg or Mayor de Blasio has made about our City’s schools. But we agree that the mayor, as the City’s top elected leader, should be responsible for the education of the City’s students.

The question about mayoral control should focus not on who is mayor but on how we build an education system that best serves children. Mayoral control in New York City has a track record of producing results for students. We urge the State Legislature to approve a long-term extension of mayoral control.

View press statement
View testimony submitted to the New York State Senate Education Committee

04.19.2016 | Today, AFC is testifying before the New York City Council Committees on Education and Mental Health, Developmental Disability, Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Disability Services about the need to make certain that our public schools are prepared to provide all students, including those with dyslexia and other disabilities, with appropriate, evidence-based literacy instruction. View our full testimony

03.31.2016 | In response to today’s release of data pursuant to the Student Safety Act, Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), released the following statement: 

The continued decline in suspensions is good news for the New York City public schools and the students they serve.  In an increasing number of schools, educators are working with students and families to implement evidence-based strategies, like restorative practices and collaborative problem solving, that reduce the need for suspensions without compromising safety. We urge the Mayor and the Chancellor of the Department of Education to fund further expansion of these strategies across the city.

The data released today also discloses how often students are transported from schools to hospitals by Emergency Medical Services staff for emotional or psychological reasons.  The City Council recently amended the Student Safety Act to require release of this information.  This increase in transparency is welcome, as for decades, we have seen school staff call EMS because they don’t have more appropriate strategies or support to help them de-escalate crises and address their students’ emotional needs.  This first batch of data on EMS referrals supports the call for expanding crisis intervention support for school staff and mental health services for students in our city’s schools.

View statement as a pdf

03.31.2016 | On Thursday, April 14, AFC's Junior Board and NYU Law School's Education Law and Policy Society will hold a panel on technology and education equity. The event is free, but please register in advance if you plan on attending. 

event flyer

03.14.2016 | AFC presented this white paper, Discipline for Students with Disabilities: Support Rather than Exclusion, the national conference of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA). The paper discusses the rights of students with disabilities to behavioral supports, and individual and systemic advocacy strategies that provide support for students with disabilities instead of excluding them from school. View white paper

report cover03.10.2016 | Today, Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) is releasing a report, A is for All: Meeting the Literacy Needs of Students with and without Disabilities in the New York City Public Schools, which documents the need for urgent and sustained action to address the particularly low literacy levels for low-income students with disabilities and prepare schools to teach reading effectively for all students. In 2015, less than 7 percent of City students with disabilities achieved proficiency on the New York State English Language Arts (ELA) exam. The report reviews research and case stories indicating that students with a wide range of disabilities are capable of learning to read if they receive appropriate instruction, discusses the key elements for teaching reading effectively, highlights a number of promising programs in New York City, and provides recommendations for implementing systemic and lasting change.

Kim Sweet, AFC’s Executive Director, says, “Every year, Advocates for Children receives hundreds of phone calls from parents seeking help for children who are years behind in reading, at times having made it to middle or high school without ever having mastered the basic skills necessary to read street signs or restaurant menus, let alone academic texts. And every year, we see students make remarkable gains when they finally receive high-quality, evidence-based instruction that targets their individual needs. Unfortunately, whether a given student receives appropriate instruction is largely a matter of luck and family resources. We want a student with dyslexia from a low-income family in New York City to have the same opportunity to learn to read and write effectively as a student with the same disability whose family is upper-middle-class.”

View press release
Read the report 

03.01.2016 | Today, Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) issued the following statement of its Executive Director, Kim Sweet, in response to the New York City Department of Education’s Reporting of Information Regarding Students Receiving Special Education Services pursuant to Local Law 27: 

“At Advocates for Children of New York, we were not surprised to see the delays in special education service delivery reported by the Department of Education in response to the requirements of Local Law 27. We get calls every day from families requiring special education supports and services who face obstacles at multiple points along the path to receiving them. Sometimes they have trouble arranging for the necessary evaluations; sometimes the mandatory meetings to arrange individualized special education plans fail to occur; sometimes everyone agrees on the services a student needs, but those services are not put into place in a timely or thorough way.

Clearly, the City must address the problems delivering timely, appropriate, and legally mandated special education supports. First, it needs a data collection system that can track whether and when required services are actually delivered. Only once the City is able to identify where it falls short can it adequately remedy the holes left in the educational experiences of so many students with special education needs.

If there is no reliable way for the DOE to know which children, in which schools, are receiving timely evaluations regarding special education needs and timely and thorough supports, services and placements, then there is no way to ensure that students actually receive the services they so greatly need and are entitled to under federal and state law.” View statement as pdf