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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

02.21.2019 | Chalkbeat New York | In one of the biggest changes, the city would have to begin reporting whether individual schools are complying with students’ Individualized Education Programs, also known as IEPs, including what proportion of students are missing out on required services such as speech or physical therapy. That could give parents a new tool to sort between schools as well as offer education officials a sense of where more resources are needed. “You can’t hold the school system accountable if you don’t know what’s going on,” said Maggie Moroff, a disability policy expert at Advocates for Children, which worked with lawmakers to craft the bills. Read article

02.07.2019 | Chalkbeat New York | Once again, De Blasio’s preliminary budget doesn’t renew funding for 69 social workers who provide support services to homeless students living in shelters under the Bridging the Gap program. The funds for this program will expire by the end of this school year. In the past, de Blasio has excluded this pool of funding — about $14 million in the current budget —  and later added the money back into the final budget proposal after backlash from advocates... “We are appalled that the Mayor continues to play budget games with critical supports for students living in shelters,” said Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York, in a statement.  “With more than 100,000 students experiencing homelessness, the City should be increasing the number of Bridging the Gap social workers, not putting the continuation of the program in jeopardy.” Read article

01.23.2019 | NY1 | The Department of Education acknowledges that there is, once again, a backlog of overdue payments for special education providers. In October, NY1 exposed how the office responsible for paying special education providers had amassed a staggering stockpile of unpaid invoices, many going back five, six, seven months. Therapists described defaulting on their mortgage, student loan and car payments as they waited to be paid for their work. Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Richard Carranza called the situation unacceptable and vowed to fix it. Three weeks later, the city said it was all caught up on 7,000 overdue payments. But now, the delays are back. Advocates for Children of New York says the volume of complaints increased significantly again this month. "These are payments which the Department of Education has been ordered to pay by an administrative hearing officer and they're still not paying them," said Rebecca Shore of Advocates for Children. Read article

01.11.2019 | Chalkbeat New York | But with reduced staff and a revised mission, special education advocates are skeptical. They worry changes will actually make it harder for families to find quality advice, potentially leading to gaps in needed therapies or students’ education during crucial developmental years. “More young children are being identified earlier in life as having developmental delays and disabilities, so this is not the time to be cutting back on staff to provide access to this information,” said Randi Levine, policy director for Advocates for Children, an organization that works with families with special needs. Read article

01.10.2019 | Chalkbeat New York | Immigration advocates, who have pushed for New York to pass such a law for years, welcome the bill. “Our students from immigrant families are facing fear and uncertainty in many aspects of their lives,” said Rita Rodriguez-Engberg, director of the Immigrant Students’ Rights Project for Advocates for Children of New York, in an emailed statement. “New York State should play a leadership role and show its commitment to immigrant students by passing the DREAM Act.” Read article

12.06.2018 | New York Daily News | Advocates for Children Executive Director Kim Sweet said the new enrollment rule will improve kids’ lives. “This change in policy should make a world of difference for students with physical accessibility needs who have historically found it nearly impossible to make the same use of NYC’s school choice system as their friends and family,” Sweet said. Read article

11.29.2018 | New York Daily News | The complaint, filed by non-profit Advocates for Children, claims Success officials changed special education placements of students with disabilities against regulations and refused to comply with administrative hearing orders in special education cases. “Students with disabilities do not give up their civil rights when they enter a charter school,” said Advocates for Children Executive Director Kim Sweet. “These laws exist to protect students with disabilities and guarantee parents a voice in their children’s education.” Read article

11.29.2018 | Chalkbeat New York | The complaint, filed with the state’s education department, alleges a pattern of school officials unilaterally changing special education placements without holding meetings with parents, moving students to lower grade levels, and even ignoring hearing officers’ rulings. In some cases, students were removed from classrooms that integrate special and general education students and sent to classrooms that only serve students with disabilities. Filed by the advocacy group Advocates for Children and a private law firm, the complaint says that Success Academy officials often force parents to fight the charter network in federal court to maintain the services that are listed on a student’s individual learning plan, also known as an IEP. Read article

11.14.2018 | New York Times | The problems with busing run deep and require bold action. As the city revamps school transportation, it must build a system that works for the students and families it is intended to serve. Read the op-ed by AFC Executive Director Kim Sweet.

11.12.2018 | Chalkbeat New York | After successfully pressing Mayor Bill de Blasio to reduce the overall number of suspensions issued to New York City students, advocates are focusing on a new target: reducing the maximum length of suspensions — which can now last an entire school year... Advocates hope to take advantage of the latest signal that city officials are open to a new set of policy changes. “It’s getting new attention from the [education department]” said Dawn Yuster, the School Justice Project director at Advocates for Children, an advocacy organization that has pushed for school discipline reform. “We see that we can get traction now, so we’re looking at as many openings as we can.” Read article