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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

12.18.2019 | Queens Daily Eagle | A lack of affordable housing is driving a homelessness crisis across the city, where families with children account for the majority of people staying in New York City Department of Homeless Services shelters. Tens of thousands of other homeless families lived doubled up, sharing space with family members, friends of other people — a particular problem in Elmhurst and Corona, the report found. 

The homelessness crisis is also evident in state education data. School District 24, which includes Corona and Elmhurst, accounted for more than a quarter of the roughly 20,000 Queens schoolchildren who were homeless at some point last year, according to state reports examined by the organization Advocates for Children of New York. 

At least 5,264 students in School District 24 were homeless at some point last school year, according to the state data. Read article

12.16.2019 | The 74 | The special education system in New York City is vast, serving upward of 200,000 students across K-12. Its handling of these students’ individual learning needs has been widely criticized, with recent reports exposing skyrocketing special-education-related complaints and severe delays in addressing them. Even with the revelation that 84.3 percent of students in special education last year received all of the services mandated by their Individualized Education Programs — up from 78.4 percent in 2017-18 — organizations such as Advocates for Children of New York have stressed that there are still nearly 29,000 students not getting their full, legally required supports.

When Marisol Nunez recalls how her daughter was left behind in school, it brings her to tears.

Emely, a Latina student in NYC, was still reading at a second-grade level when she was 14. And although school staff had brought Emely’s floundering academics to her mother’s attention, it was years before anyone told Nunez a crucial detail: Something could be done about it.

“They just started to say that she was struggling, but I never heard anything from the district that she needed special support,” Nunez said in Spanish through a translator. She spoke on behalf of her now 17-year-old daughter, who, after advocate intervention, is receiving services for a language disorder and learning disability. Read article

12.14.2019 | NY Daily News | “It’s clearly not helping students in crisis, or helping school staff respond to and prevent further crises,” said Dawn Yuster, school justice director with the non-profit Advocates for Children. “That’s what we’re hearing from school staff.”

The DOE’s crisis teams are ill-staffed and often fail to promptly respond to students in meltdowns, Yuster said.

That leaves many school administrators no choice but to call 911 for an ambulance to haul the student to a hospital ER, or for cops to forcibly remove the child.

In 2016-17, schools called the NYPD for 2,702 incidents of “students in emotional distress” — half aged 4 to 12, an Advocates for Children analysis found. In 330 cases, cops clamped handcuffs on kids, some as young as 5. Read article

12.10.2019 | City Limits | City public and charter schools identified 114,085 kids — one-in-10 students — who experienced homelessness at some point during the 2018-2019 school year, according to state data published by Advocates for Children of New York; 85 percent of the homeless students were Black or Latino.

Homeless children often become homeless adults, contributing to a cycle of generational poverty, says Josef Kannegaard, principal policy analyst at the Institute for Children Poverty and Homelessness.

“What we’re seeing in the city is a lot of students who are being exposed to negative effects of homelessness at a very early age and experiencing challenges to their emotional-social behavior,” Kannegaard says. Read article

12.08.2019 | NY Post | Under federal law, every child who needs it is entitled to free speech therapy and similar services — but first parents have to get the system to acknowledge the need.

Analysis by Advocates for Children and the Citizens’ Committee for Children found that the more black and Hispanic children in a neighborhood’s referral base, the lower the overall rates of evaluation. That raises the odds that those kids will get services early, when they can make the biggest difference.

A child’s first three years are a period of rapid cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional and motor development. It’s an especially critical time for children with autism and other developmental disabilities. Read article

12.06.2019 | News 12 | New data from a recent study highlighted the shocking number of students across the Bronx who suffer from homelessness.

Advocates for Children of New York say that 114,085 students identified as homeless during the 2018-2019 school year.

The say the Bronx is the borough that is most affected by the crisis. Read article

12.06.2019 | Albany Times Union | The analysis, released Thursday by Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York (CCC) and Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), finds that children under the age of three with developmental delays or disabilities are less likely to receive critical services that could help them reach their full potential if they live in low-income neighborhoods of color.

While the report focuses largely on disparities in New York City, it also highlights deficiencies in the rest of the state. According to data in the report, in 2018, one out of every four children found eligible for early intervention services in New York had to wait longer than the 30-day legal deadline for services, losing valuable opportunities to address developmental delays at a time when their brains are rapidly developing.

“For years, the state has failed to adequately invest in Early Intervention, and young children in low-income communities of color are paying the price," said Kim Sweet, executive director of AFC. "This analysis confirms what we've seen on the ground: that the educational disparities we see later in life start before children even set foot in the classroom.” Read article

12.06.2019 | Politico New York |  Although New York’s early intervention program was touted as a national model when it launched in the 1990s, a new report suggests that inadequate payment rates, funding cuts and provider shortages have hindered timely access to the program's services, particularly for children living in low-income and minority communities.

An analysis by the Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York and Advocates for Children of New York found that only about three-quarters of children eligible for early intervention services in the state received them in the 30-day legal deadline for services between 2016 and 2018, with many counties “seeing less than half of children receiving services on time.”

“For years, the state has failed to adequately invest in early intervention, and young children in low-income communities of color are paying the price," AFC Executive Director Kim Sweet said in a statement. Read article

12.05.2019 | THE CITY | A new analysis building on city health records previously obtained by Measure of America and THE CITY finds that kids referred to special education evaluations are least likely to get screenings in low-income neighborhoods where most residents are people of color.

Those neighborhoods are also overrepresented among those where the highest numbers of children do not receive Early Intervention services following an evaluation, according to the report from the groups Citizens Committee for Children and Advocates for Children, released Thursday.

Coordinated and funded through the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the federally mandated Early Intervention program provides free services to children up to age 3 who show signs of delays and disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorders.

The city budgeted $218.8 million for the program this year, and about 30,000 young New Yorkers received its services between 2016 and September 2018.

Earlier this year, Measure of America and THE CITY handed off the data, obtained via a Freedom of Information Law request, to the two child advocacy nonprofits, which carried out an analysis over the course of three months.

“The analysis confirms what we’ve seen on the ground,” said Randi Levine, the policy director at Advocates for Children. She said the organization regularly “gets calls from families who are having difficulty accessing the early intervention services that their children need.” Read article

12.05.2019 | NY Daily News | Only 61% of Bronx families got their assigned early intervention services in the legal 30-day deadline, according to the report by nonprofits Advocates for Children and Citizens’ Committee for Children – the lowest rate of any borough.

The shortfalls result from shrinking public funding for the private agencies that offer services like speech therapy – a gap that hits low-income neighborhoods the hardest – advocates said.

“For years, the state has failed to adequately invest in Early Intervention, and young children in low-income communities of color are paying the price," said Kim Sweet, executive director of AFC. Read article