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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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AFC in the News

05.15.2019 | Gotham Gazette | Op-ed by AFC Executive Director Kim Sweet: 

Cutting funding for the program and then restoring it should not be viewed as a victory when thousands of students living in shelter lack access to the crucial help Bridging the Gap social workers can provide. Schools alone cannot end homelessness. But, with the right support, schools can transform the lives of students who are homeless. As Mayor de Blasio has stated, a quality education is “the most powerful tool we know for lifting one’s life chances.” To break the cycle of homelessness, the city must devote more attention and resources to the education of students living in shelter. The mayor should start by providing funding for at least 100 school social workers for students living in shelter in this year’s budget. Read op-ed

04.25.2019 | Chalkbeat New York | The added positions are welcome but far from enough, said Kim Sweet, executive director of Advocates for Children, in a statement. She said the city needs almost twice as many social workers to address the growing population of homeless students, estimated at about 110,000. “We are pleased that the mayor has baselined funding for 53 Bridging the Gap social workers at schools with high concentrations of students living in shelters, ending the annual budget dance and helping to ensure the long-term continuity of the program,” Sweet said. “But 53 social workers is woefully insufficient to meet the need.” Read article

04.18.2019 | New York Daily News | In March, 15 groups who work with children and the homeless called on de Blasio to restore the money in his $92 billion budget — unveiled in February — which is the biggest in the city’s history. Now 35 city council members have joined the push, with all of them signing a letter delivered to the mayor on Wednesday that encourages him to fund the needed social workers... Advocates for Children of New York Policy Director Randi Levine said she was pleased to see local politicians pressuring de Blasio to provide funding for homeless students. “The mayor must not only maintain the Bridging the Gap social worker program, but expand it, given the thousands of students living in shelter who do not yet have access to this important support,” Levine said. Read article

04.16.2019 | Edutopia | Other problems in District 75 include the overrepresentation of minorities and boys within special education, the lack of evidence-based literacy instruction (an ongoing issue in special education classrooms everywhere), and the lack of accessibility in the older schools, according to Maggie Moroff, an attorney for Advocates for Children of New York, an advocacy group that provides free legal assistance to parents of at-risk children. That said, District 75’s self-contained model provides students with highly knowledgeable staff, technology that is suited to their needs, and appropriate behavioral supports, says Moroff, emphasizing that it also gives students a chance for a better future. “With the right training, all kids can learn and succeed. It’s really important that the school staff be given all the support and the training that they need to work with kids with a wide range of special education needs,” Moroff says. “Special education shouldn’t be a dead end for anybody. It should be a road to success.” Read article

03.29.2019 | Chalkbeat New York | Advocates who want to see the city improve the way it supports students who are learning English, a vulnerable population more likely to struggle in school and drop out, are similarly waiting to see how the new chancellor’s new leadership structure will translate to the classroom. “We understand that practically, restructuring takes a long time and that getting new staff up to speed is also a time investment,” said Rita Rodriguez-Engberg, project director for the Immigrant Students’ Rights Project for Advocates for Children of New York. “At this point, I think we’re very anxious to get started.”  Read article

03.29.2019 | Education Week | The KIPP Foundation, a charter network; Advocates for Children of New York, a non-profit working on behalf of disadvantaged students; the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, an advocacy organization for urban communities; and UnidosUS, which works on behalf of Latinos, sent an amicus (or "friend of the court") brief to the Supreme Court arguing that a citizenship question would "exacerbate the undercount that already plagues immigrant communities of color."  Essentially, the organizations argue that asking a question about citizenship will disaude people in immigrant communities from responding to the census, potentially leaving their schools with fewer resources. Read article

03.28.2019 | Chalkbeat New York | [T]hat effort — largely building on what already exists — still falls short of what advocates and elected officials want in a new push to support those students. “It’s good that someone is thinking about how to connect kids in foster care to existing DOE programs, but we think that more is needed,” said Randi Levine, policy director at advocacy group Advocates For Children New York. Read article

03.11.2019 | Education Week | Maggie Moroff, the special education policy coordinator for New York's Advocates for Children, said the program "didn't allow anyone to know if any one student was getting their services in a timely or complete manner." Parents were sometimes waiting weeks to see updated individualized education programs for their children because it took so long for school staff to enter new information into the system, she said...Moroff said that the city must continue monitoring students in special education while making plans to replace its current system. "As flawed as the data collection with SESIS was, they were working on making it better," she said. "We want to make sure this interim period is a thoughtful period, and that there's data collection that continues as well." Read article

03.08.2019 | New York Daily News | The mayor’s $92 billion budget — unveiled in February — is the biggest in the city’s history, and it comes at a time when there are more homeless students than ever, making it vital that the mayor fund the social workers, said Advocates for Children of New York Policy Director Randi Levine. “We don’t understand why the mayor is playing budget games with these crucial supports,” Levine said. “This is not the time to pull away from the support — we need the city to increase services for students.” Read article

02.27.2019 | Chalkbeat New York | Success Academy charter schools and the New York City education department have violated the civil rights of students with special needs, an investigation by state officials found. The charter network failed to provide required services to students, changed the special education placement of children without giving parents the opportunity for input, and refused to follow orders issued at special education administrative hearings, according to the state... The state investigation was prompted by a complaint filed in November by the advocacy group Advocates for Children and a private law firm. “This decision makes clear that students do not give up their civil rights when they enter a charter school, and parents do not give up their voice in their children’s education,” Kim Sweet, executive director of Advocates for Children, said in an emailed statement. Read article