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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

09.03.2018 | New York Post | As The Post reported, federal Judge William Pauley III last week let a lawsuit against the Department of Education proceed, ripping the DOE as a “cumbersome and counter-intuitive bureaucracy” whose failure to coordinate nursing and transportation services for four disabled kids forced them to miss class for much of the school year. That put it mildly. Letting kids go without school for so long is beyond outrageous. And while the lawsuit names only four children, Advocates for Children lawyers say “the entire system is broken.” No doubt. Read article

08.29.2018 | New York Daily News | Families of public school students with disabilities won a legal battle Tuesday when a federal court judge dismissed the city’s attempt to throw their suit out on procedural grounds. The lawsuit filed in October 2017 by three city families with the advocacy group Advocates for Children charged the city Department of Education with failing to provide legally mandated services for disabled students such as nursing services in school and on the school bus. Read article

08.29.2018 | New York Post | The city is systematically failing its most medically fragile kids, a judge said Wednesday in blasting the Department of Education. Special needs children are forced to stay home for much of the school year — and sometimes longer — because a “cumbersome and counterintuitive bureaucracy” can’t coordinate their nursing and transportation services, Judge William Pauley III wrote in Manhattan. The judge issued his broadside against the DOE and new Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza in a decision ordering they face a lawsuit on behalf of four severely disabled children. The DOE had tried on technical grounds to wiggle out of the lawsuit, filed by Greenberg Traurig LLP and Advocates for Children of New York. While the suit names just four kids, “We’re claiming that the entire system is broken,” said Daniel Hochbaum of Advocates for Children. Read article

08.20.2018 | New York Daily News | Jacelyn is just one of hundreds of city preschool kids with disabilities who are shut out of the special education classes promised by state law, simply because there aren't enough seats to accommodate them. Figures published by the state Education Department on Aug. 3 indicate that the city is short by 744 seats for kids aged 3 to 5. The funding for the classes is there — but the classes themselves aren't. So hundreds of the city's toddlers with the toughest disabilities, including severe autism, developmental delays, blindness and difficulty hearing, are left out each year. Advocates say it's a critical problem. "Every day that preschoolers with disabilities sit on waitlists, is a missed opportunity," said Randi Levine, policy director for Advocates for Children of New York. "When children don't get the services they need, they fall behind." Read article

07.03.2018 | WNYC | Advocates for students said this is a surface-level solution to a broader issue of overly involving agents and police officers in student discipline and mental health crises. Since 2012, school safety agents have issued fewer summonses and arrests but they are still heavily involved when it comes to responding to instances of a "child in crisis," according to quarterly data released by the NYPD. "We're having a police response to to a mental health issue," said Dawn Yuster, director of the School Justice Project for the non-profit group Advocates for Children. "We really need to take a look at how we're managing that." Read article


07.03.2018 | Chalkbeat New York | In 2016, the city announced it would increasing the number of reading coaches in each school through a new Universal Literacy Program. That may be helping, Moroff said, but some students still find themselves without needed support. “If kids didn’t have private attorneys, then what they ended up doing was just struggling in school and not getting the support they needed, falling farther and farther behind and getting a hodgepodge of services,” said Moroff. Read article

06.12.2018 | Chalkbeat New York | Most of New York City’s schools are not considered fully accessible: entire neighborhoods lack schools that can accommodate students with physical disabilities. And since the city had already exhausted all of its funding to make schools more accessible for the next fiscal year, advocates feared there would be no progress on building upgrades for at least another year. But the budget deal includes $150 million over the next three years to improve access for students with disabilities, which will likely allow for major overhauls of at least 20 school buildings and minor enhancements to dozens of others. “The [education department] is finally getting a grip on what kind of work needs to be done but they were out of money to do it,” said Maggie Moroff, a special education policy expert at Advocates for Children, an organization that pushed for increased funding. “This allows them to do it right away.” Read article

06.05.2018 | New York Daily News | In a letter sent to de Blasio Monday, the leaders of 16 influential nonprofits that work with homeless students urged de Blasio to dramatically increase supports for those kids by adding staff and funding in his upcoming budget. “The growing number of students in temporary housing represents a crisis that requires more of the City’s attention and resources,” states the letter endorsed by Advocates for Children of New York, The Legal Aid Society, WIN and other groups. The groups that signed the letter want de Blasio to add $19 million in funding for projects such as boosting the number social workers for homeless kids in shelters and schools. They also want de Blasio to establish a Deputy Chancellor’s Office for Highly Mobile Students and hire Field Support Center Directors for Highly Mobile Students. “The City must do more to help these students succeed in school, starting by doubling the number of school social workers,” said Advocates for Children of New York policy director Randi Levine. Read article

05.03.2018 | Chalkbeat New York | The confusion surrounding Garcia’s diploma grows out of the system that New York’s education leaders have been creating for years — carving out new ways for students to graduate that rely less on the passing the state’s traditional five Regents exams. The goal is to ensure students like Garcia don’t get left behind while keeping the state’s rigorous graduation standards. But...for students, teachers, and families in New York, the mishmash of rules and exceptions that the state has carved out to make earning a diploma more achievable has made it challenging to decipher pathways to graduation, said Ashley Grant, a supervising staff attorney at Advocates for Children. Grant says she helps families through the process, but that the state should create a more coherent system — one that doesn’t require an attorney’s assistance to understand. Read article

04.18.2018 | New York Daily News | A group of 30 City Council members signed on to a letter sent to de Blasio on Monday that seeks at least $30.3 million for social workers and tutors, in addition to other measures to support homeless kids... Randi Levine, the policy coordinator for Advocates for Children, said her group also backs the push for more homeless resources. “We are pleased to see such strong support in the council,” she said. Read article