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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

front page of today's paper10.10.2018 | New York Daily News | Only 335 of 1,818 public schools in the city are fully equipped for students with disabilities – and one central Brooklyn district has no accessible schools at all, a new report shows. The tally of public school buildings completed by nonprofit Advocates for Children shows that even a majority of schools in a special district created for students with severe disabilities is not fully accessible, lacking items such as wheelchair ramps and elevators to allow students get to class. The result is that too many students with disabilities are shut out of city schools, Advocates for Children Special Education Policy Coordinator Maggie Moroff said Tuesday. Read article

10.05.2018 | New York Times | Kerrin said she talked to his teachers and administrators repeatedly, but, she said, they insisted they did not have enough special education students to create a small, devoted classroom. For third grade, T.J. was again placed in a large classroom. T.J. was just being passed through the system, she recalled thinking. “He isn’t where he’s supposed to be, and everyone is ignoring it.”

Finally, she said, “one of his teachers reached out to me personally and said, ‘You have rights.’” That teacher guided her to Advocates for Children of New York. “The system is very hard to navigate,” said Daniel Hochbaum, a lawyer at that organization who represents T.J. and his family. “A parent can’t know everything there is to know on their own. I’m an attorney and I don’t even know all the answers.” Read article

10.03.2018 | NY1 | A month after schools reopened, the city education department still has not completed the paperwork needed for Parker's therapist to resume working with him after the summer break. "It's not legal. In fact, the DOE [Department of Education] has been ordered by an impartial hearing officer to make these payments in these instances," said Rebecca Shore, the director of litigation for Advocates for Children of NY. The case of Parker Chen is not unique. NY1 News has learned that the education department is months behind paying the therapists who serve many of the school system's most disabled children — and the backlog of bills is growing. Read article

10.02.2018 | VICE | Advocates tended to agree that the most important work schools could legally right now do was simply to help young immigrant children feel safe. “It’s not just about protecting students and protecting their records, it's providing social emotional support,” said Rita Rodriguez-Engberg, project director of the Immigrant Students' Rights Project at Advocates for Children of New York. “I’m a naturalized citizen myself, and you just never know. I honestly feel like nobody feels safe right now.” Read article

09.24.2018 | Chalkbeat New York | Maggie Moroff, a disability policy expert at Advocates for Children, said busing issues often linger through much of the school year. In the past, the education department has reacted defensively, fixing bus issues in individual cases when advocacy groups get involved but rarely pledging to overhaul the system, she said. “We get a lot of students at this time of year who have not been to school yet because they don’t have a bus,” Moroff said. “It’s exciting to hear the chancellor say, ‘it’s unacceptable and we’re going to do something about it.’” Read article

09.12.2018 | Chalkbeat New York | In a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio, dozens of advocates and disability-rights groups are calling for $750 million more over the next five years to ensure that at least a third of schools are accessible. Currently only 20 percent of schools are fully accessible, some 30 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a fact that has previously drawn ire from the U.S. Department of Justice. “In an era when there’s so much being done to emphasize inclusion and integration at every level, the fact that there are a number of students out there who can’t get in the door — literally — is a real issue,” said Maggie Moroff, a disability policy expert at Advocates for Children, which signed on to the letter. Read article

09.05.2018 | Politico New York | Rita Rodriguez-Engberg, project director for the Immigrant Students’ Rights Project for Advocates for Children of New York, said that she does not know what type of education the children are receiving. “The big unknown for us is what happens inside the ORR shelters in terms of education, and two, how many of those kids are going to end up in a sponsor or long-term foster care situation,” Rodriguez-Engberg said. “We have no idea.” Read article

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