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Micaela’s Story

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

03.20.2020 | NY Daily News | “Every day that goes by where children are not receiving educational services is an opportunity missed,” said Randi Levine, policy director for Advocates for Children. “We are very worried about children who are homeless falling further behind.” Read article

03.20.2020 | Chalkbeat NY | About a dozen advocacy groups sent the chancellor a letter on Friday calling on the city to allow those children to be cared for at the centers. “Picture a parent of children at multiple grade levels spending their time in a hotel room. That’s not an appropriate space for learning,” said Randi Levine, policy director at Advocates for Children, which signed on to the letter. (Some homeless families are housed in commercial hotels.) “Students who are homeless have worse education outcomes than their permanently housed peers and we’re very concerned they’re going to fall further behind in the coming weeks,” Levine added. Read article

03.02.2020 | Politico NY | “I think that every step in the process is really broken and as a result the backlog has kind of snowballed into itself,” said Rebecca Shore, director of litigation at Advocates for Children of New York, a nonprofit legal and advocacy organization. 

At least two federal lawsuits have been filed in recent months challenging the system and seeking to force DOE into compliance with the federal disabilities act and other applicable laws. Read article

02.27.2020 | ABC 7 | A recent report by Advocates for Children of New York identified over 114,000 students were homeless in New York City during the 2018-2019, and officials at PS 132 in Washington Heights say nearly one quarter of its students are currently living in shelters or overcrowded homes. 

To aid students, the elementary school hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday for its newly installed washing machine and dryer, obtained by Catholic Charities of New York's Catholic Charities Community Services, Alianza Division. Read article

02.19.2020 | Politico NY | The New York Immigration Coalition Education Collaborative, which includes the groups Advocates for Children of New York and the Flanbwayan Haitian Literacy Project, is pushing the Department of Education to develop a $6 million pilot program that would create classrooms citywide to cater to the needs of older, newcomer immigrant students.

“We’re really trying to target that group of students — the ones that ultimately never made it inside of the school where they actually enrolled,” Rita Rodriguez-Engberg, director of AFC’s Immigrant Students' Rights Project, told POLITICO. “They may have made it past the enrollment point and were told, ‘Sorry, you’re too old’... those youth who came from their home country thinking they can enroll in school but ultimately didn’t is really what we’re trying to target with this effort.”

The pilot would serve approximately 600 students, to start. Read article

02.19.2020 | Chalkbeat NY | From 2013-2017, 4,200 newly arrived older immigrant students — ranging in age from 14 to 21 — were not enrolled in school, according to U.S. Census Bureau data analyzed by Migration Policy Institute, in response to a request from the New York Immigration Coalition. The immigrant advocacy group defined “newly arrived” as youth who have lived in the United States between zero and three years. 

“That’s about the size of a small town in the USA,” said Rita Rodriguez-Engberg, director of the Immigrant Students Rights Project at Advocates for Children New York. 

As a result, a coalition called Education Collaborative — made up of more than 30 community groups — wants the education department to open a $6 million pilot program that would offer more seats at transfer schools for newly arrived, older immigrants. Read article

02.13.2020 | NY1 | Advocates say the hearing process is rife with delays.

"I hope it helps. We have a number of clients who have been waiting for months, sometimes a year, to get a hearing and get their due process so that their children can get the services that they need," Rebecca Shore, director of litigation for Advocates for Children, said.

Even when a due process hearing is held there are often delays in implementing the decision. In a separate legal action, the nonprofit Advocates for Children said the city was not fulfilling its promises under a 12-year-old settlement to implement the orders of hearing officers more quickly.

"Every step in the process needs to be fixed," Shore said. Read article

02.12.2020 | SI Live | A report from October identified more than 2,500 Staten Island students in elementary, middle and high schools who are, or have been, homeless. The New York State Technical and Education Assistance Center for Homeless Students, a project of Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), released the data of students who experienced homelessness in New York State and New York City during the 2018-2019 school year.

According to the report, Island public and charter schools enrolled 2,558 homeless students in the 2018-2019 school year. That’s 2.24% of the total number of homeless students in schools across the five boroughs. Read article

02.10.2020 | USA Today | Yolanda, who works at a nonprofit helping victims of sex-trafficking, couldn’t afford the retainer most private lawyers charge; she had to find a free one. Luckily, Landon’s mentor put them in touch with Stein at Advocates for Children, which helps low-income families obtain special education services.

Stein says many low-income families aren’t so lucky. “There’s definitely far more need than availability,” he said. Read article

02.10.2020 | Chalkbeat NY + THE CITY | “Every step in the process really is broken,” said Rebecca Shore, the litigation director for Advocates for Children. 

The city’s education department has been inundated with a growing number of cases with complaints doubling over the past five years. These challenges are reviewed by an independent hearing officer, under a process that by law is supposed to take no longer than 75 days from the moment a complaint is filed until a decision is issued. But the average amount of time it takes to resolve a case has ballooned to 259 days, a 74% increase since the 2014-15 school year.  Read article