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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

08.11.2022 | Chalkbeat NY | “It sounds a little bit like shifting the blame to the families, but the reality is there isn’t somewhere in the public school system for many of those families to turn,” said Maggie Moroff, a disability policy expert at Advocates for Children, which offers free legal help to families seeking private placements. 

Private school tuition payments have long been a contentious policy issue in New York City. Many families and advocates say they are a lifeline for students who would otherwise languish in public school settings, ranging from those with relatively common reading challenges like dyslexia to those with more serious intellectual delays. Read article

08.11.2022 | The New York Post | “The State did not exempt students from completing their coursework, passing their classes, earning the required number of credits, or meeting their teachers’ expectations,” said Sarah Part, a policy analyst at Advocates for Children of New York, including its work on postsecondary readiness. 

“New York is an outlier in requiring exit exams in the first place — most states have zero — and there is no evidence to support the conclusion that exams like the Regents improve student learning or increase the odds of post-secondary success,” she added. Read article

07.29.2022 | Chalkbeat NY | To the outward facing part of the world, it’s very last minute,” said Maggie Moroff, a special education policy expert at the nonprofit Advocates for Children. “It’s hard for me to imagine, if this hasn’t been communicated to the schools yet, how it’s going to play out successfully.” 

Students with disabilities have a legal right to “compensatory services” if their school does not provide all of the specialized instruction or therapies included on their IEP. And a significant share of students with disabilities missed out on special education instruction or therapies that were difficult or impossible to provide during remote learning or as staff were stretched thin. 

But successfully advocating for compensatory services can be time consuming and require legal help. If the district does not agree to provide those extra services, families can go through an administrative legal process to compel the city to provide them, though that process is complex and has faced extreme backlogs that often stretch many months. Advocates for Children filed a lawsuit in an effort to force the city to create a more streamlined process, though that suit has not been successful so far. 

Even if the city instructs schools to provide more compensatory services, Moroff noted that many students aren’t scheduled to have an IEP meeting until the spring, raising questions about how quickly students will have access to extra help. 

“If a student’s last IEP happened last April, they’re not regularly scheduled for an IEP meeting until next April,” she said. “Sure, a family could ask, but that shifts the burden onto the family.”  Read article

07.22.2022 | Newsday | On the other side is the Coalition for Multiple Pathways to a Diploma, another statewide group, which lists more than 80 members. They include Advocates for Children of New York, with a center in Manhattan; Learning Disabilities Association of New York State, Rochester; and Long Island Advocacy Center, New Hyde Park. 

The multiple pathways group supports the Regents' drive to review graduation standards. Representatives said New York is among a minority of states that require students to pass multiple standardized exit exams, and that such tests pose an unnecessary barrier to students who have otherwise completed high school coursework and are ready for college or careers. Read article

07.18.2022 | NY Daily News | Just 9% of students who started ninth-grade in District 75 went on to receive diplomas within six years, according to the Independent Budget Office. Students in the specialized district were more than 10 times as likely than their peers in traditional schools to be handcuffed by police in school between 2018 and 2020, according to data compiled by Advocates for Children. Read article

07.17.2022 | NY Daily News | But for thousands of kids with emotional disabilities sent to District 75, it often serves as little more than a holding ground, according to interviews with 10 current and former district families and staffers from multiple schools. 

“It’s become outrageous what’s happening on a large-scale basis,” said Dawn Yuster, the director of the School Justice Project at Advocates for Children. “What we’re doing is pushing students out of school, not educating them, setting them up… especially kids who are Black and brown, to end up in the school-to-prison pipeline.” Read article

07.13.2022 | The Imprint | “It’s really important to get these folks in place in time for the beginning of the new school year so that they can begin to support students,” said Erika Palmer, supervising attorney at Advocates for Children. “We don’t want another school year to go forward when this is still a big struggle. Students are being impacted.” Read article

07.12.2022 | City & State | As for students with disabilities and those living in temporary housing, transportation remains one of the biggest barriers, according to Randi Levine, policy director at Advocates for Children of New York. 

Last year, bussing was only offered at the close of the day’s academic portion, which meant many of these students were left out of the afternoon enrichment activities as they wouldn’t have a way home if they stayed until 6 p.m. This summer, the department of education is offering eligible families two ridesharing options for students who stay until 6 p.m., with the caveat that an authorized adult must be available to use the service to pick their child up. Paraprofessionals and nurses are also not allowed to travel with the child. 

“Students who have special education classes for the summer are assigned a site and often that site is far away from where they live,” Levine said. “It can be very difficult for a parent to have to travel to the site and take their child home even with the availability of rideshare. Certainly it does work for some parents, but not for others.” 

Still, she said she’s been heartened to see other strides the department has taken in increasing the program's accessibility. About 70 different Summer Rising sites are being co-located with students from District 75, which serves students with significant needs, meaning they’ll also be able to participate in afternoon enrichment activities. Read article

07.12.2022 | Politico New York | Randi Levine, policy director for nonprofit Advocates for Children of New York, said the Covid-19 stimulus funding presented an opportunity to invest in some key programs like adding social workers in schools and helping address the shortage of preschool special education programs. 

Given that the investments were made with one-time funding, the city, state and federal elected officials have their “work cut out” figuring out how to sustain the programs in the long term, she said. Read article

07.11.2022 | The New York Post | “Last fall, the City announced a first-ever DOE team devoted to meeting the unique needs of students in foster care. However, the DOE delayed posting these positions,” read the letter, co-signed by Advocates for Children and other child welfare and education groups. 

“While we understand that several positions are now moving forward, the DOE has still not committed publicly to hiring the full team that it promised to serve students in foster care,” it said. 

Advocates, in their letter Friday, also called on the DOE to guarantee foster care students receive bus transportation — as required by federal law — so they don’t have to change schools each time they are placed in a new home. Close to one in five students switched schools when entering foster care — and again with each change in foster care placement, the advocates wrote, citing data from the 2019-2020 school year. 

“For students separated from their families and placed in foster care, school has the potential to be an important stabilizing factor in their lives,” read the memo. “However, without guaranteed transportation, this potential often goes unrealized, causing many students to transfer schools and experience further instability.” Read article