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AFC in the News

05.02.2022 | Chalkbeat NY | “For many parents, it is not possible to transport their child with significant disabilities to and from their school,” said Randi Levine, from Advocates for Children. “We know many students with disabilities last year were unable to participate in the Summer Rising afternoon activities due to lack of bus service.” Read article

04.29.2022 | Gothamist | Families and advocacy groups welcomed the news, but say that the city needs to commit to training all teachers across the system on strong, proven literacy strategies that benefit students with dyslexia and other reading challenges, such as training more teachers in evidence-based interventions. “We’re pleased the mayor is suggesting new investments in this area and want to see the city go further,” said Sarah Part, policy analyst at Advocates for Children of New York. Read article

04.28.2022 | Advocates want the city Education Department to hire 150 people to make sure students in homeless shelters get to school every day. 

Chronic absenteeism — defined as missing more than one in ten school days — is a big challenge citywide this year, and it’s more pronounced among students in homeless shelters. Last school year, 64% of students living in shelters were marked chronically absent, compared to 28% of their peers in permanent housing.

The money to hire workers in shelters would come from $33 million in federal stimulus funds, the advocates say. The workers, called community coordinators, would help homeless families with any school-based needs. The city has already committed to hiring 50 new community coordinators with federal cash, but advocates say that’s not enough, and are pushing the agency to use the remainder of the federal money to hire 100 more.

“With 60% of students living in shelter chronically absent from school, it is important to have someone on the ground in the shelter who can partner directly with families, determine why a particular child is missing school, and resolve the problem,” 30 advocacy organizations wrote in a letter Thursday to Mayor Adams and schools Chancellor David Banks.  Read article

04.22.2022 | NY Daily News | “The DOE really asked a lot of parents during the pandemic. It’s a much harder ask for parents who don’t speak English,” said Rita Rodriguez-Engberg, the director of the Immigrant Students’ Rights Project at Advocates for Children.

Orquiria, a Bronx mother of two city public school students learning English, said delays in receiving city-issued iPads and difficulty understanding how to access virtual classes contributed to her kids’ frequent absences last year.

“They missed many of their classes,” said the Bronx mom, who asked to use only her first name to protect her kids’ privacy. Read article

04.21.2022 | Chalkbeat NY | “It’s very frustrating and actually quite depressing for us as advocates because we know that when we meet a student who lives geographically far from the [English language learner] transfer schools, we know immediately it is going to be an uphill battle,” said Rita Rodriguez-Engberg, director of the Immigrant Students Rights Project at Advocates for Children New York. 

During visits to the five transfer schools focused on students learning English as a new language, Rodriguez-Engberg was struck by how many students said they were glad to have a bilingual social worker who “could help them navigate not just school life but life in the U.S.” Students may be dealing with varying levels of trauma, she said, such as coming to the U.S. alone, leaving conflict behind in a home country, being detained at the border before being released, or just missing home. Read article

04.20.2022 | Chalkbeat NY | Maggie Moroff, a special education policy expert at Advocates for Children, said occupational and physical therapists provide support that is often a precondition to academic success, such as learning to grip a pencil or helping students build up enough endurance to navigate the school building and focus during class without becoming exhausted. 

“If providers aren’t being paid, or if they’re not being paid quickly, then they’re not going to stay in the work,” Moroff said. “And if they don’t stay in the work, then the kids aren’t going to get the services and it’s a disaster.” Read article

04.20.2022 | PIX 11 |  Advocates and city leaders pressured the Department of Education Wednesday to fulfill a promise to support students in foster care. 

The DOE announced a division dedicated to the needs of students in foster care in December of 2021. City data shows those children are suffering with low graduation rates along with high absenteeism and suspension rates. 

Only 43% of students in foster care graduated on time in 2021, 38 percentage points lower than the rate for students not in foster care. More than 20% of New York City students in foster care repeat a grade, compared to only 6% of all DOE students. Watch video

04.20.2022 | NY1 | Advocates say the city has promised a staff of 11 for the office. City officials testified four positions have been posted. None, so far, have been filled. 

“Meaning there is still not anyone at DOE focused solely on students in care,” Erika Plamer, an attorney with Advocates for Children, said. 

The city’s schools serve upwards of 7,000 children in foster care each year. Their educational outcomes are startling.

“The New York City public school graduation rate for students in foster care is only 43%, compared to 81% of all other New York City students,” said Councilwoman Rita Joseph, chair of the Education Committee. Watch video

04.20.2022 | City & State | The four positions that the department is now hiring for include a senior manager of foster care support, an interagency coordinator, a policy associate, and a data manager. But education advocates noted that only the first position is described as focusing solely on students in foster care. “The other three positions seem to combine responsibilities for students in foster care and a much larger population of students experiencing homelessness,” Erika Palmer, supervising attorney at Advocates for Children, said on Wednesday. “That’s not sufficient to address the needs,” Melinda Andra, an attorney at the Legal Aid Society, added. Read article

04.20.2022 | NY Daily News | “For too long, students in foster care have been an afterthought at the Department of Education – resulting in students going without needed school supports at a time in their lives when so much is unfamiliar and uncertain,” said Erika Palmer, a supervising attorney for Advocates for Children of New York. Read article