rssfacebooktwitteryoutubeinstagram

Need Help?

Call AFC's Education Helpline
(866) 427-6033
Monday to Thursday
10 am to 4 pm 

Resource library: View AFC's guidebooks, fact sheets, and more

Read Cheick's Story

Cheick, an immigrant student from Mali, was told—illegally—that he had to leave high school and transfer to a high school equivalency program.

Sign up

Receive email updates or text alerts from AFC.

News & Media

Press Releases

06.14.2018 | Today, Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), issued the following statement in response to the New York City Council’s vote to adopt the Fiscal Year 2019 city budget: 

School Accessibility: We thank the Mayor and the City Council for including in the budget an additional $150 million over three years to make more schools accessible to students, parents, and teachers with mobility, hearing, or vision needs.  For too long, the City has tolerated a system where students who use wheelchairs or otherwise need accessible buildings are effectively barred from most schools.  No child should be turned away from school because they can’t get into the building.  The funding for school accessibility in this year’s budget is an important move forward. 

Support for Students who are Homeless: We thank the City Council for adding $2 million to fund approximately 20 additional Bridging the Gap school social workers for students living in shelters.  Along with the 10 additional social workers that the Mayor included in his Executive Budget in April, this investment means the City will move from 43 Bridging the Gap social workers to approximately 73.  While the budget does not go as far as we had hoped, this investment will make a big difference in the ability of 30 additional schools to meet the needs of students living in shelters.

View statement as a PDF

first page of report05.24.2018 | Today, Advocates for Children of New York issued a new publication entitled Gaps in Social Workers for Students Living in Shelters [PDF], documenting the number of New York City schools with high concentrations of students living in shelters that do not have a social worker to serve these students. 

During the 2016-2017 school year, 38,000 New York City students lived in shelters.  The City has taken a positive step by placing 43 “Bridging the Gap” social workers in schools with high populations of students living in shelters to focus on serving this population.  These social workers have provided counseling to students, connected them to academic support and mental health services, and worked to improve attendance. 

Despite a push by elected officials and advocates to expand this program significantly, Mayor de Blasio’s Executive Budget proposal would add only 10 Bridging the Gap social workers, for a total of 53 social workers citywide. AFC’s analysis shows that this proposed modest increase falls far short of meeting the need.  

While schools cannot end the homelessness crisis, they can help students living in shelter overcome obstacles and succeed in school, but only if they have sufficient support.  The City should double the number of school social workers focused on serving students living in shelters.

View the press release [PDF
Read the report [PDF]

04.26.2018 | Today, Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), issued the following statement in response to the release of the New York City Fiscal Year 2019 Executive Budget: 

We are pleased that the City is allocating an additional $125 million to 854 high-needs schools through Fair Student Funding.  This much-needed funding will help schools pay for an extra staff member or a variety of programs to meet needs identified by each individual school.  

At the same time, there are important citywide needs that must be addressed through targeted investments and cannot be left to the discretion of individual schools.  To this end, we are encouraged that the City is increasing funding to provide anti-bias training and to help improve literacy for students, including students with disabilities, English Language Learners (ELLs), and students living in shelters.

But more work is needed to advance equity and excellence for students being left behind.  Before the budget process concludes, we hope that Mayor de Blasio and the City Council will increase funding in the following areas:

Support for Students who are Homeless:
With 100,000 students homeless, adding just 10 DOE school-based social workers to support students living in shelter is grossly inadequate.  While the City works to address the overwhelming problem of homelessness, they must invest in senior-level DOE leadership and a significant expansion of DOE social workers at schools and in shelters to mitigate the impact of homelessness on children and ensure they can get a high-quality education.

Evidence-Based Approaches to Improve School Climate:
In order to ensure that every child can attend a safe, high-quality school where students, teachers, and staff are treated with dignity and respect, the City must increase investments in direct mental health services for students and fund whole-school training for school staff in collaborative problem solving.  These evidence-based approaches help schools support students with challenging behaviors and were recommended by the Mayoral Leadership Team on School Climate and Discipline to keep students in school learning instead of punishing them through exclusionary discipline practices, which do not address the underlying causes of the behavior.

School Accessibility:
As he affirms his commitment to diversity and inclusion, the Mayor must address the severe shortage of accessible schools so that no child, parent, or teacher is turned away from a school because they cannot get in the doors.  The City Council should stand firm on its recommendation to invest an additional $125 million to make more schools accessible.

Bus Service for Students in Foster Care:
While the City took a significant step forward two years ago by offering yellow bus service to students living in shelters, the City must now extend bus service to students in foster care so they do not have to transfer schools mid-year due to lack of transportation.

We look forward to working with the Mayor and the City Council as the budget process continues to ensure the final budget invests in these critical areas.

View statement as a PDF

04.25.2018 | Today, Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), issued the following statement in response to the announcement by Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Johnson regarding the increase in funding for Fair Student Funding: 

We are pleased that the City is allocating an additional $125 million to 854 high-needs schools through Fair Student Funding.  Before the budget process concludes, the City must also increase funding for targeted supports for students who are currently being left behind and ensure funding is used to provide systemic solutions.  Only targeted investments will ensure that students living in shelters get the support of social workers to get to school every day and receive needed counseling, that students with behavioral challenges get direct mental health services and school staff trained in collaborative problem solving to help them stay in school, that kindergarten through sixth grade students placed in foster care get bus service so they do not have to transfer schools mid-year, and that students with physical disabilities have accessible schools so they are not sent far outside their neighborhoods because they cannot get in the doors of their local schools.

View statement as a PDF

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

02.01.2018 | 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

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

10.10.2017 | Today, the New York State Technical and Education Assistance Center for Homeless Students (NYS-TEACHS), a project of Advocates for Children of New York, posted new data showing the number of students identified as homeless enrolled in New York City and New York State schools for the 2016-2017 school year. 

The data come from the New York State Education Department’s Student Information Repository System (SIRS) and show that during the 2016-2017 school year:

  • 148,215 students were identified as homeless by NYS school districts and charter schools.
  • This represents a 6% increase from the 2015-2016 school year. 
  • The New York City Department of Education identified 104,088 students experiencing homelessness.
  • Students in temporary housing now make up approximately 5% of the total student population in NYS and 10% of the student population in NYC.

“One out of every ten NYC students is homeless,” said Kim Sweet, AFC’s Executive Director. “The number of children and youth experiencing homelessness in NYC is twice the size of the entire Boston public school system.”

“We are pleased that Chancellor Carmen Fariña identified addressing the needs of students who are homeless as one of her priorities for this school year,” Sweet said.  “Over the past few years, the City has taken some positive steps, including offering yellow bus service to kindergarten through sixth grade students living in shelter, increasing pre-K enrollment among children living in shelter, and hiring more than 30 Department of Education social workers for schools with high populations of students living in shelter.  Now, we urge the City to expand the number of DOE social workers for students in temporary housing, ensure high-level leadership on this issue, and devote the resources needed to address the significant challenges faced by the rising number of students who are homeless.”

View news release as a PDF

report cover09.29.2017 | Today, Advocates for Children of New York and SCO Family of Services, a social services provider, announced the launch of a Parent Toolkit, an easy to use guide that provides recommendations and resources to enhance parent involvement in their child’s education while in foster care.  The Toolkit helps parents navigate the education system while embracing the important role they play in their children’s academic success and achievements.  

“Parent engagement can have a dramatic impact on a child’s education, and the recommendations contained in the report demonstrate that more can be done to fully engage parents in their children’s education while in foster care,” remarked Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children. “These recommendations provide a road map for involving parents who have often felt excluded and focus on shared education planning and decision-making, with parents serving as both advocates for their children and partners with schools and foster care agencies.”

The Toolkit accompanies a jointly produced report, Empowering Parents So Children Succeed, and is the product of a three-year partnership between Advocates for Children and SCO Family of Services. 

View the press release [PDF]
View the report [PDF]

Toolkit

Parent Engagement Workflow [PDF]

Parent Education Bill of Rights [PDF]
(also available in Spanish)

Talking to Your Child about School [PDF
(also available in Spanish)

Translation and Interpretation Services Fact Sheet [PDF
(also available in ArabicBengaliChineseFrenchHaitian CreoleKoreanRussianSpanishUrdu)

School Template Letter [Word file]

School Contacts Sheet [PDF
(also available in Spanish)

IEP Information Sheet [PDF

Parent-Teacher Conferences Tip Sheet [PDF
(also available in Spanish)

Advocates for Children’s Guide to Special Education [PDF
(also available in ArabicBengali, ChineseSpanish)

Online Tools for Locating Community-Based Resources [PDF

Homework Tip Sheet [PDF
(also available in Spanish)

Advocates for Children’s Education Helpline Flyer [PDF
(also available in Spanish)