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Micaela’s Story

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

02.20.2018 | The 74 Million | To Kim Sweet, executive director of the nonprofit Advocates for Children of New York, the transition gives de Blasio an opportunity to elevate the needs of disabled students. “In my experience, chancellors tend not to focus on special education in their first term, if they get to it at all,” she said. ”It would be great to see a chancellor who makes education of students with disabilities a top priority from the outset.”

Advocates said that many of the issues Fariña faced on special education predated her tenure or are nationwide problems, such as a shortage of qualified special ed teachers. They are also complicated by the sheer size of the city’s 1.1 million–student public school system, serving nearly 200,000 special needs kids. “There is no other school system in this country that is as big or complex as NYC’s,” Sweet said. “That makes it challenging to look at other districts that seem to do a better job with students with disabilities and simply export their strategies here.” Read article

02.13.2018 | Chalkbeat New York | Advocates said the new reporting requirement would be a powerful tool for accountability. “To get this would be a huge win,” said Maggie Moroff, a special-education policy expert at Advocates for Children. “It would allow us and other advocates to know where to drive our advocacy and allow the [education department] to know where to send support to schools.” Read article

02.13.2018 | The 74 Million | “We’re glad to see that the percentage of students fully receiving special education services increased from last year, but 48,000 students with disabilities are still going without special education services they’re entitled to receive under the law,” said Randi Levine, policy coordinator for Advocates for Children of New York... While it’s disappointing that the timeliness of IEP meetings hasn’t really improved, Levine said, the numbers are true to the experience of her organization. “We get calls every day from families who are struggling to get their children the evaluations they need, the IEP meetings they need, and ultimately the services and special education instruction they need,” she said. Read article

01.31.2018 | City Limits | In the 2016-17 school year, between 31 and 35 homeless preschool students in New York City were receiving special education services, from 17 in the Bronx to none in Staten Island, according to data from NYS Student Information Repository System (SIRS). The data was released by NYS-TEACHS, a project from Advocates for Children, an organization supporting NYC children and groups susceptible to discriminatory policies and actions... [H]omeless students could inadvertently lose out on special education services when families confront a complex evaluation process for assessing the need for special ed coupled with the instability inherent to life in the shelter system. “It’s easy for children to slip through the cracks and not get timely evaluation,” she says, citing the time-consuming process of getting an Individualized Education Program, or IEP, the legal document that stipulates the services a school must provide for a child in special education. “For preschool students in general, we do see backlogs and delays at the stage of evaluation and at the stage of IEP development. There are particular challenges for certain populations,” including homeless families. Read article

01.16.2018 | WBAI Radio | Equal Justice Works fellow Gena Miller spoke with WBAI Radio's The Morning Show about bullying in New York City public schools, particularly as it affects LGBTQ students. Listen to the segement: 

01.02.2018 | Al Jazeera | AFC Policy Director Randi Levine was interviewed for this segment on the rising number of New York City students experiencing homelessness.

12.21.2017 | Huffington Post | Throughout 2017, immigrants across the nation have faced threats of deportation and discrimination from Washington. In New York City, many of our grantee partners have been working to make sure the city’s schools are safe places for young immigrants. Advocates for Children received support earlier this year to push for the City Department of Education to prevent United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents from entering school buildings or accessing student records. Other long-time Trust grantees including the New York Immigration Coalition and Make the Road New York have been pressing city officials to ensure widespread protections for immigrant families. These efforts produced tangible results when the Mayor announced that the city was sharing a detailed protocol for schools on how to respond to law enforcement requests from ICE authorities. The protocol is one of many local policies aimed at supporting New York City’s immigrant communities in the wake of heightened discrimination. Read article

12.20.2017 | NBC New York | Parents of children with disabilities are suing the city Department of Education, which they say has denied their children an education by failing to provide the support services they need. Melissa Russo reports in an I-Team exclusive. Watch segment

12.14.2017 | amNewYork | “The number of homeless students in New York City is twice the size of the Boston Public School system,” said Randi Levine, policy director of Advocates for Children of New York, which put out the report. The data includes students living in shelters or other temporary housing, such as in a hotel or “doubled up” with family or friends... Because students have to get used to new routines, teachers and peers when they start a new school, their performance can suffer, Levine said. “Students perform better when they stay in their schools,” she said. According to Advocates for Children, “15 percent of third through eighth grade students living in shelters scored proficiently in reading and only 12 percent scored proficiently in math” in the 2015-2016 school year. Overall, 40.6 percent of third- through eighth-graders in the city scored proficiently in English and 37.8 percent scored proficiently in math, according to the Department of Education. Read article

12.14.2017 | Chalkbeat New York | “We do worry that in the hands of an unskilled teacher that kids will not necessarily feel welcomed and they’ll still be separated out and made to feel different” said Maggie Moroff, a disability policy expert at Advocates for Children. “It’s pretty exciting to me to see that’s not necessarily true.”... Surprisingly, it made little difference whether students with disabilities were in “self-contained” classes — essentially classes comprised only of students with disabilities — or were in classrooms that included non-disabled peers: Both groups reported similar feelings of inclusion. (The findings don’t include students in District 75, a separate set of schools that are even less inclusive, since the schools themselves are only for students with disabilities.) Moroff, the special education advocate, said the finding surprised her and noted it could reflect that students in more segregated settings aren’t necessarily aware of more inclusive models. “It’s very possible there that there’s a level of interaction they’re not having,” Moroff said, “that they don’t even expect to be taking place.” Read article