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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

10.06.2017 | Village Voice |  Though the city reports bullying in schools is on the decline, the AFC hotline, which helps families and students who are experiencing bullying, has received an increasing number of calls over the past few years. One of the primary complaints received: schools not taking action after a student reports being bullied to a teacher. “What we find is that families often are making reports and telling school staff, but there are problems with addressing what’s happening by the school,” says Yuster. “There aren’t enough guidance counselors or school psychologists or mental health professionals to deal with these issues. Schools are overwhelmed.” ... Dawn Yuster says when she advocates for a child who has been bullied or experienced harassment at school, she often ends up telling teachers and guidance counselors about existing support systems in place to help them with bullying. “Students, families, and even school staff are typically not even aware of who the person is in their school who is supposed to be the expert on addressing bullying... We appreciate good policy,” she says, “but it needs to translate on the ground. Schools need to have the resources and the training to utilize it.” Read article

09.29.2017 | Chalkbeat New York |  Schools sometimes fail to input bullying reports in an education department database that triggers a process for responding to the allegations, according to Dawn Yuster, the School Justice Project director at Advocates for Children of New York, a group that supports students who have been bullied. She said some of her clients’ families had repeatedly gone to school personnel with bullying allegations — to no effect. “There was no documentation until we got involved,” she said. Yuster attributed some schools’ failure to document or respond forcefully to bullying partly to staffers’ uncertainty about what counts as bullying and how best to respond to it. In other cases, teachers and administrators may simply be overwhelmed. “I don’t think it’s an unwillingness,” she said. “I think it’s more about resources, knowledge, experience, and training.” Read article

09.28.2017 | NY1 | Mayor Bill de Blasio and his schools chancellor have vowed to stamp out bullying in schools, spending $47 million a year on mental health and other programs to make schools kinder, gentler and more supportive places. However, revelations that bullying may have triggered Wednesday's deadly stabbing in a Bronx school are raising new questions about how effective those programs are, and whether they are reaching every school. View segment

09.20.2017 | Chalkbeat New York | Advocates have repeatedly pointed out problems with the city’s special education system, including lack of access to key services. But some say Rello-Anselmi tends to be open to criticism, and is receptive to proposed fixes. “She has acknowledged the problems,” said Maggie Moroff, a special-education expert at Advocates for Children. “She’s not closing her eyes and wishing they would go away.” Read article

09.14.2017 | Democrat & Chronicle | If political capital is lacking for funding increases, it is likely due to a series of highly publicized fraud cases in New York City several years ago... "When the (troubling) reports came out about providers stealing funding, we said, 'You need to punish the bad actors, not the preschoolers,'" said Randi Levine of Advocates for Children of New York. "I think that negative media attention has made it more challenging for the state to approve a higher reimbursement rate, even though the vast majority of providers are doing wonderful work every day to serve children with disabilities." Read article

09.04.2017 | New York Daily News | The city is illegally denying necessary services to thousands of students with disabilities — and the poorest kids get cheated the most often, according to advocates and data the Daily News obtained. As of May, 8,854 public school students with disabilities were lacking services such as speech therapy, physical therapy and counseling, according to figures the city Education Department supplied... Maggie Moroff, special education policy coordinator for Advocates for Children of New York, said suffering often awaits students like Cameron who miss out on mandated services. “This is a big deal,” Moroff said. “If a kid isn’t getting those services, then they’re having trouble. They’re not going to be able to participate in things like reading and writing.” Read article

08.22.2017 | Chalkbeat New York | English and math exam pass rates inched up in New York City this year compared to last year — more than they did in the state as a whole, city officials announced Tuesday. The annual release of test scores created a wave of reactions from education stakeholders across the state. Read article

07.26.2017 | Guernica | In 1975, Congress enacted what is now called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a law granting all children the right to a “free appropriate public education” in the “least restrictive environment.” The statute’s implications are profound: students with a range of disabilities are entitled to specially designed services, and, as much as possible, they must be educated in mainstream classrooms. About 6.5 million children across the US now receive special-education services. Under the IDEA, parents, school staff, and other professionals work together to craft an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for each eligible student. An IEP defines a student’s learning needs and the supports the school will minister, providing parents a legal basis to advocate for their children. If a dispute arises, parents may seek mediation or request a due-process hearing. However, for many low-income and minority families, these protections remain abstractions... For forty years, Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) has worked to realize the ideals of the IDEA by representing low-income families in school-related proceedings. Read article

07.24.2017 | Chalkbeat New York | Career and technical education has been shown to help students make it to graduation. But New York City’s English language learners — who consistently lag behind their peers when it comes to on-time graduation — are both under-enrolled in the city’s CTE programs and less likely to complete them, according to a new report. Released Monday by the nonprofit Advocates for Children of New York, the report shows that while English learners made up 10.8 percent of the city’s high school students in the 2015–16 school year, they comprised only 5.3 percent of students in CTE programs. Though the number of CTE schools in New York City has increased dramatically over the past decade, the report raises the question of whether all groups of students are benefiting equally from these programs. Read article

07.12.2017 | Chalkbeat New York | Maggie Moroff, a disability policy expert at Advocates for Children, said in an interview that the report’s findings did not surprise her and that related services are just as important as general academic instruction. “It’s all the other things that go into a student’s ability to process and learn and develop in school,” Moroff said. “Without any of them, you’re denying a student a really important piece of their education.” Read article