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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

02.03.2020 | Chalkbeat NY | “I’m glad to see that continuity and see someone who I was already working with move up,” said Maggie Moroff, a special education policy expert at Advocates for Children who has worked with Foti. “What I know she brings is passion and commitment.”

A 17-year veteran of the education department, Foti has worked as a special education teacher, literacy coach, and the principal of a school in District 75, which serves students with the most complex disabilities. Read article.

01.30.2020 | THE CITY | The looming shortage is estimated at roughly 1,000 to 2,000 seats in coming months, according to a report released Thursday by Advocates for Children, with The Bronx facing the greatest potential shortage of any borough.

“The most common scenario we’ve seen is children sitting at home with no instruction and no services,” said Randi Levine, policy director for Advocates for Children. “Students also end up staying in regular pre-K classes that are too large or without teachers that have the right training.” Read article

01.30.2020 | NY Daily News | Advocates have long protested the lack of special education pre-K classes for 3- and 4-year-olds, which is federally mandated, even as the city invests millions in universal pre-K.

But the new analysis by Advocates For Children shows the alarming scope of the problem affecting kids who are most in need of early schooling.

“Unless government leaders take immediate action, hundreds of children with autism and other disabilities will miss out on their mandated services this spring in violation of their civil rights, and we will squander this opportunity to provide support at the point in a child’s development when it is likely to be most effective,” said Kim Sweet, executive director of the advocacy group. Read article

01.30.2020 | Chalkbeat NY | Three-year-old Aiden Flores, who has autism and is nonverbal, has been at home in East New York without services since December, when he aged out of Early Intervention services for children with disabilities and became eligible to enroll in preschool.

Even though the education department determined last October that Aiden needed a special education placement with a smaller class size, they have been unable to offer him one, leaving him without any instruction or the speech and behavior therapy that was helping him become more expressive and social.

“I did my own research, I was calling schools,” said Juanita Lopez, Aiden’s mother. “And I’m like, ‘What do you mean? You don’t even have one for me to tour?’”

Officials at Advocates for Children, which is helping the family, said the education department is exploring options and offered a seat in a classroom that has twice as many students as Aiden’s special education learning plan calls for — an imperfect option Lopez is reluctant to accept. Read article

01.30.2020 | CBS New York | According to a new report by Advocates for Children of New York, the city is expected to have a shortfall of between 1,028 to nearly 2,000 seats for preschool special education classes in the spring when the demand is the highest, especially in the Bronx.

“Children have a legal right to receive the full set of services outlined in their special education plan,” said Randi Levine, policy director for Advocates for Children of New York.

That legal right is not being fully met, despite the city adding more than 1,000 seats over the last two years. Read article

01.30.2020 | NY1 | "The term ‘universal pre-K really’ bothers me. Because it's universal for kids that don't have special needs,” said Joanne Gerenser, director of Eden II programs, a special needs provider on Staten Island.

That problem is detailed in a new report from Advocates for Children, which projects a shortfall of between 1,000 and 2,000 special education pre-K seats across the five boroughs this spring.

"For children with autism and other disabilities, every day matters. So, this problem is urgent," said Randi Levine, policy director of Advocates for Children. Read article

01.16.2020 | Chalkbeat NY | Ashley Grant, a staff attorney for child advocacy group Advocates For Children New York, said the “troubling” disparities in graduation rates between students of different races and abilities illustrate why the state should be rethinking diploma requirements.

“It will be critical that the State Education Department and the Board of Regents keep these opportunity gaps a central focus as the state re-examines graduation requirements over the next two years,” Grant said.

The Regents are expected to consider changes by 2022. Read article

01.07.2020 | Chalkbeat NY | Maggie Moroff, a disability policy expert at Advocates for Children, said there could be real benefits to the district running a school that explicitly services students with reading challenges  — including making phonics-based reading instruction more widely available. 

“There’s a need for additional evidence-based literacy instruction and I’m thrilled that people are thinking about ways to deliver it,” she said. Read article

01.02.2020 | Chalkbeat NY | There’s already a shortage of more than 300 seats in special education pre-K classrooms in New York City, and about 30 special education pre-K programs have closed in the past few years, according to Advocates for Children. The nonprofit sent a letter last month to city leaders demanding swift action to stave off a potential teacher exodus from special education preschool programs.  Read article

12.21.2019 | CNN | In New York City alone, over 114,000 students were identified as homeless in the 2018-19 school year, according to New York State Education Department data posted by Advocates for Children of New York, a local nonprofit organization. That's one in 10 students, and 85% of them are Black or Hispanic. The trend has grown over 70% in the last decade, the data shows.

When we think about this phenomenon, many of us picture single individuals begging for money at street corners, or sleeping outside, but that's not the full picture. "The face of homelessness is children and families, and these children are in school everyday alongside children who are in permanent housing," says Randi Levine from Advocates for Children of New York, a local nonprofit focused on the rights of homeless students. Read article