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AFC in the News

10.10.2021 | Truthout | Director of Litigation at Advocates for Children Rebecca Shore calls the situation frustrating and notes that, “Students and parents typically know that they are entitled to a free and appropriate public education. But what that means is not always made clear by the schools.”

What’s more, she emphasizes that these issues predate COVID — by decades.

In fact, Advocates for Children, a New York City nonprofit that works to ensure that the city’s 1.1 million students — 200,000 of whom have a disability — receive a high-quality education, is suing the city on behalf of children whose documented need for specialized services went unmet during the school system’s COVID-19 shutdown. They are hoping to win compensatory services — essentially make-up sessions of physical, occupational and speech therapy, as well as other specialized services that were not provided during the remote learning period. Read article

10.08.2021 | Chalkbeat NY | “Sometimes it feels like they’re relying on our escalations to figure out where they need to send support,” said Maggie Moroff, who works on special education policy issues for Advocates for Children. She hopes a new system will help city officials respond faster in situations where students aren’t getting required therapies — or are even in the wrong type of classroom setting.

Moroff noted that city officials have recently given parents direct access to some special education data, including whether the teachers in their courses have a special education certification, and the most recent dates of services such as speech or occupational therapy. Read article

10.07.2021 | ABC7 Eyewitness News | "$12 million is woefully deficient for what the city needs," said Dawn Yuster, with Advocates for Children of New York. She, along with others, are pushing for the "Solutions Not Suspensions" bill in the state House and Senate. "Right now, you can be suspended for up to 180 days," she said. "This would cap it at 20 days." It would also limit the ability for schools to suspend children in kindergarten through third grade. Read article

10.01.2021 | Chalkbeat NY | The program only guarantees five hours a week of instruction for elementary school students and 10 hours a week for middle and high schoolers, minimums that are set by state regulations. And while hundreds of families have applied for the program despite the limited hours, some are still waiting for instruction to begin weeks after the school year started as their applications are processed... “I think there’s a lot of interest and a lot of suspicion at the same time,” said Maggie Moroff, a special education policy expert at Advocates for Children, referring to the limited hours of instruction. Read article

09.30.2021 | CBS2 News | The pandemic has created a shortage of nurses across the country and here in New York. That's having a ripple effect on students with severe disabilities who require full-time assistance, and it's putting their education at risk.

"The DOE is legally obligated to provide that nurse so that they can attend school." Rebecca Shore is with the organization Advocates for Children. "But this year, we're hearing on a daily basis of two or three students each day who are not able to attend school because they don't have a nurse assigned."

Watch the segment

09.28.2021 | Chalkbeat NY | While some advocates are hopeful about the tool, they’re concerned about how — or whether — the assessment and its findings will be communicated to families. “We just haven’t heard of a comprehensive plan to inform families about this assessment, and I think it’s important for families to know and for parents and caregivers to be aware that there are students being assessed, but then also what the results are,” said Rohini Singh, a senior staff attorney with the School Justice Project at advocacy organization Advocates For Children. Singh emphasized that this tool does not screen for mental health needs and believes that sort of screening should be conducted by a licensed mental health professional. Read article

09.27.2021 | PIX 11 News | For five decades, Advocates for Children of New York has been working to help thousands of at-risk kids across the city get a fair shot at an education. “We represent families whose children are the most impacted by education inequities. Children who live in homelessness, who are experiencing barriers to education, who are in the juvenile justice system, for example,” explained the Director of AFC’s Parent Center, Lilliana Díaz-Pedrosa. Watch the segment

09.12.2021 | Chalkbeat NY | But the question remains: What will happen after students are assessed and identified as having challenges? What specific training will be provided to educators to help them respond?

“We don’t want to see this just left up to individual schools for everyone to do their own thing,” Sarah Part, a policy analyst at the nonprofit Advocates for Children, previously told Chalkbeat. Read article

09.07.2021 | The 74 | Police interventions for students in emotional distress rose from 2016 to 2020, according to a recent analysis by Advocates for Children of New York. Looking into 12,000 incidents where children were transported to hospitals for psychological evaluations, data shows that Black students and students with disabilities were disproportionately affected and handcuffed. Read article

09.02.2021 | SI Live | But experts say that the success of the screeners will depend on how schools use the information and the interventions they offer, according to Chalkbeat. While screening is important, implementation by schools and educators will be key, Sarah Part, a policy analyst at Advocates for Children, told the media outlet. Read article