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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

9.03.2012 | WNYC/SchoolBook | Advocacy groups working with students who require special education services in school say many families are facing mixed messages and open questions about the services local schools can provide them, with just days to go before the start of school. Advocates for Children of New York said it has handled at least 30 cases recently involving incoming special education kindergarten students. Read article

9.03.12 | Univision | Parents describe their difficulty advocating for their children with special needs without proper translation and interpretation services. Featuring AFC staff attorney Rigel Massaro.

9.01.2012 | New York Post | At least 40 parents have approached the nonprofit Advocates for Children after being told that their kids wouldn't get small classes or extra services that were promised in official education plans.  Read article

8.28.2012 | Insideschools.org | The beginning of a new school year can be exciting -- and confusing. Some very helpful information is now available for families of students with disabilities. A new fact sheet from Advocates for Children is online in both English and Spanish. It covers a range of issues that often crop up at the beginning of school. For many children with special needs, the start of school will be a smooth process, but if it's not, you can get in touch with Advocates for Children for advice and assistance. Their help line at (866) 427-6033 is staffed Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Read article

8.14.2012 | NY1 News | At Hillcrest High School in Jamaica, Queens, 65 percent of the students live in households that earn under $30,000. That is double the figure of just three years ago.

While Hillcrest saw one of the biggest jumps, student poverty has increased citywide. "An increase in poverty rate means increased challenges for the city schools," said Kim Sweet of Advocates For Children. In 2009, one school had every student qualifying for free lunch, while 15 schools had 97 percent or more. Now, five schools have 100 percent of their students coming from poor homes and 43 schools have at least 97 percent.

About 40,000 more students are now eligible for free lunch than in 2009. Department of Education data shows nearly seven out of 10 students come from poor households. Hillcrest High Principal Stephen Duch said he knew his school would have to do more. "We began to come up with ways in order to support students," said Duch. They reorganized the big school into nine small sections, and have managed to increase their graduation rate, despite the uptick in poverty. Hillcrest's student poverty rate is still close to the citywide average. Other schools face tougher odds. "There is research showing that when a school has more than 50 percent of its students in poverty it will have a harder time achieving at the levels it should be achieving," Sweet said. "And the greater the concentration of poverty, the more of a challenge it is to educate all of the students adequately." It is a challenge more educators face, as the number of schools with the highest poverty rates has multiplied. "Statistically speaking, if a school has a 97 percent poverty rate, you'd would expect that school to have a really hard time making achievement goals," said Sweet.

As NY1 reported last week, schools with the highest poverty rates are also likely to have above-average percentages of special education students or students learning English. But not all their numbers are so high, as many of the highest poverty schools have among the lowest test scores.

7.30.2012 | Insideschools.org | Special education advocate Maggie Moroff of the ARISE Coalition and Advocates for Children says she firmly supports the goals of the reform, but, like many others, she has concerns about how changes will be implemented. "A dedicated hotline is great," she said. "But what happens when families call the hotline is critical. I don't know the skill level of the specialists and I don't know how much authority they have." Advocates for Children already operates a helpline for parents and Moroff said that recent calls indicate that many parents are concerned that their children won't get all the services they need. Read article

7.26.2012 | City Limits | The city hopes EarlyLearn will make for higher-quality city-funded daycare. Despite funding shortages and doubts about the way contracts were awarded, some agencies and advocates believe the program has promise... Read Article

7.03.2012 | New York Times | Elementary schools in New York must screen their students for literacy problems in a new way, beginning this month.  The goal is to get students the help they need as soon as possible, but the city's Department of Education also hopes the program will reduce referrals to special education... Read Article

6.21.2012 | World Journal Chinese Press | AFC and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI) filed a complaint  with the Office for Civil Rights of the United States Department of Education against the DOE for its systemic failure to provide translation and interpretation services to tens of thousands of limited English proficient (LEP) parents, in violation of  local, state, and federal civil rights...read article

6.20.2012 | New York Daily News | Parents who don't speak English and have kids with special-education needs have systematically been denied access to translations for key documents and interpreters at required school meetings for at least the past three years, Advocates for Children and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest say.  Read article