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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

04.20.2022 | Chalkbeat NY | Maggie Moroff, a special education policy expert at Advocates for Children, said occupational and physical therapists provide support that is often a precondition to academic success, such as learning to grip a pencil or helping students build up enough endurance to navigate the school building and focus during class without becoming exhausted. 

“If providers aren’t being paid, or if they’re not being paid quickly, then they’re not going to stay in the work,” Moroff said. “And if they don’t stay in the work, then the kids aren’t going to get the services and it’s a disaster.” Read article

04.20.2022 | PIX 11 |  Advocates and city leaders pressured the Department of Education Wednesday to fulfill a promise to support students in foster care. 

The DOE announced a division dedicated to the needs of students in foster care in December of 2021. City data shows those children are suffering with low graduation rates along with high absenteeism and suspension rates. 

Only 43% of students in foster care graduated on time in 2021, 38 percentage points lower than the rate for students not in foster care. More than 20% of New York City students in foster care repeat a grade, compared to only 6% of all DOE students. Watch video

04.20.2022 | NY1 | Advocates say the city has promised a staff of 11 for the office. City officials testified four positions have been posted. None, so far, have been filled. 

“Meaning there is still not anyone at DOE focused solely on students in care,” Erika Plamer, an attorney with Advocates for Children, said. 

The city’s schools serve upwards of 7,000 children in foster care each year. Their educational outcomes are startling.

“The New York City public school graduation rate for students in foster care is only 43%, compared to 81% of all other New York City students,” said Councilwoman Rita Joseph, chair of the Education Committee. Watch video

04.20.2022 | City & State | The four positions that the department is now hiring for include a senior manager of foster care support, an interagency coordinator, a policy associate, and a data manager. But education advocates noted that only the first position is described as focusing solely on students in foster care. “The other three positions seem to combine responsibilities for students in foster care and a much larger population of students experiencing homelessness,” Erika Palmer, supervising attorney at Advocates for Children, said on Wednesday. “That’s not sufficient to address the needs,” Melinda Andra, an attorney at the Legal Aid Society, added. Read article

04.20.2022 | NY Daily News | “For too long, students in foster care have been an afterthought at the Department of Education – resulting in students going without needed school supports at a time in their lives when so much is unfamiliar and uncertain,” said Erika Palmer, a supervising attorney for Advocates for Children of New York. Read article

04.20.2022 | New York Post | Erika Palmer, an attorney at Advocates for Children, said that after foster kid “Daniel,” a pseudonym to protect his privacy, was threatened by his mom with a knife, he got into trouble at school that resulted in his suspension. 

Daniel was eventually allowed back into the building, “but at that point, the damage had been done,” Palmer said — his attendance suffered, he started staying out late and was even hospitalized. 

“We must ensure that school is a place where students in care feel safe and supported, rather than a place where they feel unsafe, unwanted and let down,” she said.

Activists also said the DOE hasn’t been providing federally-mandated transportation to school for foster care students — a claim the city adamantly denied. Read article

04.13.2022 | City Limits | “Work-based learning opportunities like SYEP are especially important for English Language Learners (ELLs), but many immigrant students and students learning English have historically been left out of these programs, due to documentation barriers and a lack of language supports,” said Juliet Eisenstein, Advocates For Children’s Postsecondary Readiness Project attorney. Read article | Lee el artículo

04.07.2022 | Chalkbeat NY | “It seems to be really inconsistent in how much they’ve been able to do for kids at different schools,” said Maggie Moroff, a special education expert at Advocates for Children, a nonprofit group. Schools are “offering what they have as opposed to what the kids need.” 

The program got off to a shaky start, with the education department delaying implementation until December at many schools. School leaders couldn’t find enough educators interested in working after hours, and school officials did not guarantee yellow bus transportation, making it difficult for many children to participate. 

Some parents were turned off by limited communication about what services their children would receive, even as officials vowed the program would be individually tailored based on conversations between families and teachers. Read article

04.07.2022 | PIX 11 | Advocates For Children said about 15% of approximately 200,000 special needs students are not getting their legally mandated services from the city. 

"Currently about 1 out of 6 students with disabilites are not getting all of their legally mandated services, or [are] in their legally mandated placements," said Maggie Moroff, Senior Special Education Policy Coordinator at Advocates for Children of New York. Watch video

04.04.2022 | City & State | In other areas, the council is calling for funding to hire new positions, including $12 million to hire shelter-based community coordinators at the Department of Education. According to the council’s budget response, only 52% of city students who have been homeless and spend time living in shelters graduated on time, while 60% were chronically absent. Education advocates have called for more funding for community coordinators to serve as resources for these students. Read article