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Read Michelle's Story

Michelle, a 20-year-old from Haiti, spoke very little English but had dreams of earning a high school diploma and attending college.

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Who We Serve

Immigrant Students and English Language Learners

Immigrant Students and English Language Learners

Advocates for Children of New York (AFC)’s Immigrant Students’ Rights Project combines our distinctive leadership in the field of public education advocacy with our in-depth knowledge of the needs of immigrant students, students learning English, and their families to improve student achievement and advance meaningful reform.  Our work with families, strong partnerships with leaders and service providers in immigrant communities, and expertise on legal rights and entitlements place us at the forefront of efforts to improve educational opportunities for these students. 

We represent immigrant students and parents in school administrative hearings, help parents enroll their children in effective English Language Learner (ELL) programs, and assist older immigrant youth in finding appropriate school placements.  In addition, we provide tools and information to parents on how to address problems in their children’s schools.  We also work closely with immigrant-serving community-based organizations to strengthen their ability to assist families as they navigate the public school system and seek to create stronger partnerships with their local schools to improve their school communities. 

AFC does not consider immigration status when deciding whether to help you.

Guides & Resources

  • Know Your Rights: A Guide to Legal Rights of Immigrant Families in New York City Public Schools, available in EnglishSpanishArabic, BengaliChinese, FrenchHaitian-Creole, KoreanRussian, and Urdu
  • Program Options for English Language Learners, available in English and Spanish 
  • Fact Sheet: Enrollment in New York City Public Schools for Immigrant Families, available in English and Spanish
  • Fact Sheet: Promotion Policy in New York City Public Schools for English Language Learners (ELLs) in Grades K-8, available in English and Spanish
  • Fact Sheet: High School Promotion and Graduation Policy in New York City Public Schools for English Language Learners (ELLs), available in English and Spanish


Getting Your Child’s School Transcripts and Documents Translated into Your Language

AFC’s Immigrant Students’ Rights Project is partnering with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest to ensure immigrant parents of students with disabilities receive the translation and interpretation services they need to participate meaningfully in their children’s education.

Policy Work

Through our work with families and communities, we identify troubling trends and system-wide barriers that we address through our policy work.  A cornerstone of this aspect of our work has been collaboration with other immigrant and education advocacy organizations. Our advocacy has spurred a number of major reforms, including the creation of alternative high schools specifically for ELLs, initiatives to reverse the citywide decline in bilingual programming, and improvement to translation and interpretation services for immigrant parents. View our policy priorities.

Recent Initiatives

AFC and NYLPI File Complaint Against the DOE to Stop Discrimination Against Limited English Proficient Parents
In June 2012, AFC and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI) filed a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights of the United States Department of Education against the DOE for its systemic failure to provide translation and interpretation services to tens of thousands of limited English proficient (LEP) parents, in violation of local, state, and federal civil rights laws. Read the complaint here and read the press release here. All exhibits, including parent affidavits, are available on file with AFC. Please contact Abja Midha at (212) 822-9502 or amidha@afcnyc.org.

Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFE)
In 2010, Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) released an important report, Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFE): A Challenge for the New York City Public Schools, which showed that addressing the needs of SIFE is critical to raising English Language Learner (ELL) achievement and graduation rates overall. SIFE, along with other high needs ELLs and newcomer ELLs, make up the majority of ELLs in New York City middle and high schools. SIFE also represent a subpopulation of ELLs who have some of the biggest obstacles to acquiring the English language skills and content knowledge necessary to graduate from high school. The report launched a unique collaborative effort by the New York City Department of Education (DOE), AFC, Flanbwayan Haitian Literacy Project, and Sauti Yetu Center for African Women to build schools’ capacity to meet the needs of SIFE.