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Micaela is a dual-language learner who is on the autism spectrum and needed an appropriate school placement for kindergarten.

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09.25.2020 | The 74 | Bus drivers are generally notified in advance about the needs of the children riding in their vehicles, explains Maggie Moroff, special education policy director at Advocates for Children of New York. If a bus driver finds a student alone at the curb, without the paraprofessional or nurse required by their Individualized Education Program (IEP), the driver can’t let that child on board. 

“If a student needs support on the bus, it is critical that the student have support on the bus,” Moroff says. “The paras and nurses are for the safety of the student and, in some cases, for those around them.” Read article

09.24.2020 | NY1 | Many shelters don't get good enough cell service for the DOE's devices to get online, advocates said.

"We now need the city to charge someone with looking at why the iPads are not working in certain city shelters and identifying the problem and fixing it because we don’t want students to miss out on anymore school this year,” said Randi Levine, policy director at Advocates for Children. Read article

09.22.2020 | The CITY | Randi Levine, policy director at Advocates For Children, said her organization has spoken to families who are “doing their best” using cell phones with limited data plans. 

One child goes to a grandmother’s home for internet connection but cannot travel there every day. Her organization is still hearing from children living in homeless shelters whose city-issued iPads cannot connect to the internet. 

“We’re very concerned that some children are not able to log on and participate as the school year gets underway,” Levine said. Read article

09.18.2020 | NBC Today Show | Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York speaks with the Today Show about the delay of the start of in-person classes for New York City public schools, and what this means for families and students. 

 "Parents and families are supervising and instructing their children, whether they like it or not, and schools really have to work in partnership with them like they never did before," said Sweet. Watch video

09.17.2020 | Bloomberg News | Advocates for students with disabilities raised similar concerns. “Remote learning was disastrous for many students this spring,” Randi Levine, policy director of Advocates for Children of New York, said in an emailed statement. The city must “start paying more attention to how to provide students with effective instruction and help them catch up whether they are learning in person or remotely.” Read article

09.16.2020 | WNYC | "Even before the pandemic, significant disparities existed between New York City students who are homeless and their permanently housed peers, and the pandemic has only magnified these inequities," said Randi Levine, policy director at Advocates for Children of New York. 

The switch to remote learning in the spring was messy. The Department of Education distributed tablets with cell data, but some homeless students didn't receive them on time, and others had issues using them.

"There are shelter where the iPads that New York City provided don't work due to lack of cell phone reception, and other shelters where connectivity is limited." Listen to the full story

09.16.2020 | WCBS 880 | “The city has distributed hundreds of thousands of iPads with data to students who need them, but at some city shelters the iPads don't work because there's no WiFi and isn't sufficient cellular reception,” says Randi Levine, the police director and Advocates for Children of New York. 

She says for the roughly 100,000 students who experience homelessness, education is hard enough. They need more resources to help them learn as efficiently as their peers. 

“Before the pandemic, fewer than a third of city students who are homeless were reading proficiency and only 60% graduated from high school,” Levine said.

Her organization is one of 30 groups that wrote a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio, urging him to address several outstanding issues before the school year begins – among them, access to online learning. 

“We need the city to urgently work across agencies, bring different agencies together, and charge someone with fixing these problems immediately,” Levine said. Listen to the full interview.

09.16.2020 | Gothamist | There were problems with the remote-learning devices issued by the Department of Education as well, said Randi Levine, the policy director at Advocates for Children of New York, a nonprofit focused on low-income students. “We heard from some parents today who were not able to log on to the remote orientation, they couldn’t get their iPads to work, they were unable to reach the Department of Education’s help desk or their school for assistance. And so their children had to miss out on the first day of remote orientation,” she said. Read article

09.15.2020 | Center for NYC Affairs | At a time when teachers and principals are debating Covid-19 safety guidelines, scrambling to fulfil staffing mandates, planning hybrid in-class and remote learning schedules, and contesting the DOE's assessments of windows that won't open and HVAC systems that don't work, the City hasn't answered a crucial question, says Yuster from Advocates for Children: Where's the help for students with serious mental health needs?

"We absolutely appreciate the City's proclaimed commitment to social-emotional learning, but we haven't seen or heard of any plans for providing direct mental health services," Yuster says. "The City has proven they can figure out really creative way to get money to pull together trainings. Those resources should be directed toward helping students, particularly students with significant mental health challenges."

 "If everyone involved – if all the adults in schools, in the City government, in the NYPD – if everyone could think of every interaction involving a student who has mental health needs as if it was their own child, I think we would all be doing things really differently," Yuster continues. "We would be doing right by our students." Read article

09.14.2020 | NY Times | “We are extremely concerned that students already went months with little learning happening and that the learning loss will only continue unless the city steps up,” said Randi Levine, the policy director at Advocates for Children of New York, a research and legal group. “For students who are homeless, it feels like we are in a similar place that we were in the spring.” Read article