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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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News & Media

AFC in the News

12.03.2020 | Univision | Un informe revelado por la organización Advocates for Children of New York indica que más de 100,000 alumnos han vivido desamparados por cinco años consecutivos, siendo el 85% hispanos y afroestadounidenses. Ana Sofía Trelles, quien hace parte del colectivo, afirma que “la ciudad no tiene suficientes recursos de viviendas económicas para familias que perdieron su hogar”. Watch video

12.03.2020 | Politico NY | Families and advocacy groups have spoken out in recent months over the lack of adequate internet access in shelters, exposing a major flaw in the city’s plans to educate its sprawling public school system. 

While the number of homeless students in district or charter schools has declined since the prior school year, one in 10 students in New York City remain homeless, the report says. One in six are homeless in the Bronx.

“Learning from home is much harder when you don’t have a permanent home,” Kim Sweet, AFC’s executive director, said in a statement. “As the public health situation evolves, we need to prioritize offering these students the option of getting back into the classroom full-time and providing them with the help they need to make up for lost learning.” Read article

12.03.2020 | City Limits | The number of homeless students in New York City dropped 2 percent last school year but still topped 100,000, according to data released Thursday. 

The New York State Technical and Education Assistance Center for Homeless Students (NYS-TEACHS), which released the information, says that while 32,700 of those homeless students spent time in city shelters, some 73,000 did not. Instead, they and their families found refuge “doubled up” with friends or family–further indication that, as large as it is, the city’s nightly shelter census does not reflect the enormous scale of the homelessness problem. Read article

12.03.2020 | Brooklyn News 12 | Even before the pandemic, students facing homelessness already dealt with many obstacles trying to succeed in school. Advocates for Children of New York is concerned that the pandemic has magnified those disparities. 

"When schools closed, students lost what is a key source of stability for students experiencing homelessness," said Advocates for Children of New York policy director Randi Levine. "Many had difficulty with remote learning, and as a result we're very worried about the learning loss that has occurred." 

They expect these numbers to go up even higher after this school year. Watch video

12.01.2020 | Chalkbeat NY | Maggie Moroff, a disability policy expert at the non-profit Advocates for Children, which primarily works with low-income families, said the lack of live instruction appears to be a widespread issue.

“We are definitely hearing from families who are reporting on the lesser end of live instruction,” she said. “Most students need to be taught by a teacher — they need to be able to ask questions and interact with the person who is instructing them.” Read article

11.30.2020 | City & State | It’s also currently unclear how many schools will be able to offer five days of in-person instruction. “We have already heard from a number of schools that they are not able to offer five-day in-person instruction at this time,” said Randi Levine, policy director at Advocates for Children of New York, an advocacy group that primarily works with low-income students. “So I think that the city has work to do to ensure that schools have the staffing and space that they need to offer five-day in-person instruction.” Read article

11.24.2020 | Gothamist | Advocates for Children filed the lawsuit on behalf of seven parents and one legal guardian of special education students in federal court on Monday, noting that learning loss began back in March, when the onset of the pandemic triggered a systemwide shutdown of public schools across New York City. This shifted all students to remote learning, including District 75, which provides instruction to 25,000 special education students. 

Kim Sweet, executive director of Advocates For Children, noted that tens of thousands of students have been impacted by the lack of compensatory services. She noted that many of these students have lost "the progress they had made." Read article

11.24.2020 | Bronx News 12 | The lawsuit was filed last week against both the city’s Department of Education and the state Education Department by a nonprofit called Advocates for Children. It claims that students with special needs have not received an appropriate education.

"I want to get him as much help as I can get - tutoring, extra services - because he is going to need it. We are talking about his future and the future of other kids as well. What this lawsuit seeks is a system for the Department of Education to provide compensatory services to students with disabilities who lost either instruction or services during remote learning,” a mother of a 15-year-old boy with autism tells News 12. Watch video

11.24.2020 | NY Post | Erendira Landa says she and her autistic, Spanish-speaking son David, 15, have faced endless hurdles in adjusting to home learning. Landa struggled and eventually found a translator for his classes, but she still hasn’t found a speech or behavioral therapist who speaks Spanish and is available after school. 

“It’s been very difficult because the related services he’s entitled to have not been met and the one-to-one setting that he’s supposed to have in these special programs he’s not been able to be provided because there is no one by his side,” Landa told The Post. 

“The school is helping as much as they can online, but they cannot provide a person on the other side of the screen,” Landa explained. Read article

11.23.2020 | The CITY | The federal class action filing by the nonprofit Advocates for Children identifies eight students as complainants who have missed out on legally mandated services during remote learning for a host of reasons — including iPad shortages and the challenge of delivering services such as physical therapy remotely.

The suit also cites a lack of translation and interpretation services for students and parents as an obstacle.

The case argues that the city Department of Education’s current hearings system — under which parents can file complaints to reclaim the counseling, physical therapy and more their kids have been missing out on — is too complicated and costly for most families to navigate. 

They say the log-jammed system, which fielded nearly 11,000 complaints in the 2019-2020 school year that took an average of 259 days to resolve, would inevitably move too slowly given the expected flurry of parents seeking services for their children.

“This is a time when students can’t wait — they’ve already almost lost a year of appropriate services,” said Rebecca Shore, director of litigation for Advocates for Children.

“They can’t wait any longer and they can’t wait until the end of the pandemic for the DOE to start addressing this issue,” she added. “The DOE needs to start addressing it now.” Read article