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AFC in the News

10.18.2021 | PIX 11 | Homeless students have long faced barriers to education and now New York City advocated are worried about their low attendance rates at school. 

The average attendance rate for the first weeks of the academic year was about 75 percent, according to a new study by Advocates for Children of New York (AFC.) Last winter and spring, the overall monthly attendance rates for students in shelter were lower than those for any other student group. 

The Department of Education’s shelter-based support system is insufficient, AFC Director of Learners in Temporary Housing Project Jennifer Pringle. She called for dedicated staff on the ground in shelters to connect students with schools and support networks. 

“Children get one shot at a quality education, and every day a student is absent is a day of instruction they can never get back,” Pringle said. Watch video

10.18.2021 | CBS 2 New York | “Their attendance was anywhere between 11 and 14 percentage points lower than their permanently housed peers,” said Jennifer Pringle of the group Advocates for Children of New York. 

Pringle’s nonprofit analyzed Department of Education data. The attendance rate for students in shelters was as low as 74%, compared to their peers, at around 90%. 

“Students who have poor attendance are more likely to drop out of school and not graduate from high school, and students who don’t get a high school diploma are four and a half times more likely to experience homelessness as an adult,” Pringle said. Watch video

10.18.2021 | NY Post | More than a quarter of city kids living in shelters were absent from school in the first several weeks of the new academic year, according to a new study. 

Advocates for Children of New York found that attendance plunged to just 73 percent, and that absenteeism among homeless students has steadily worsened over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The DOE said Monday that the figure has since ticked up to 78 percent. Attendance for all city students has hovered near 90 percent thus far in the academic year. Citing the dire figures, ACNY has called on the Department of Education to allocate more federal funds to curb the trend. 

“These alarmingly low attendance rates make clear that the DOE’s current shelter-based support system is not sufficient,” said Jennifer Pringle, Director of AFC’s Learners in Temporary Housing Project. “There needs to be dedicated, well-trained staff on the ground in the City’s shelters who can help students reconnect with school and access the educational supports they need to get back on track.” Read article

10.18.2021 | Bronx News 12 | In a staggering report, News 12 has learned that many New York City students living in homeless shelters missed one out of every three days of school last year.  

This comes as Advocates for Children of New York released a report on attendance data for tens of thousands of students. 

Local organizations are calling the data disheartening but not surprising. On Monday night, News 12 spoke with advocates for children to learn more about their findings as well as BronxWorks, a group that offers homeless services to families across the borough. 

"Depending on the month, it ranged from anywhere between 11 to 14 percentage points lower attendance than their permanently housed peers," says Jennifer Pringle, a project director with Advocates for Children of New York. Watch video

10.18.2021 | Chalkbeat NY | Ashley Grant, director of the Postsecondary Readiness Project at the nonprofit Advocates for Children, said they’re “pleased” officials are looking at project-based assessments as a way to evaluate students. 

“Right now, most high schoolers in [New York State] are still required to pass four to five high-stakes tests to earn a diploma,” Grant said in a statement. “We agree with NYSED that these types of assessments do not prepare students for postsecondary success and continue to urge New York State to act as soon as possible to decouple Regents exams from graduation requirements.” Read article

10.14.2021 | Chalkbeat NY | Still, some advocates are calling for more investment in services that can reduce punitive disciplinary practices because students are facing deeper academic and emotional challenges. 

“What they need to be doing is proactively providing social-emotional and mental health supports to all students,” said Dawn Yuster, director of the School Justice Project at Advocates for Children. Read article

10.12.2021 | Univision Nueva York | Advocates for Cchildren of New York es una institucón que vela por la educacón de alumnos nos dijo que esán trabajando con familias de niños que ni siquiera han podido ir a la escuela por falta de personal adecuado para administrarles sus terapias. Watch video

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