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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

03.30.2021 | NY1 | “There's no federal law that requires that state accountability tests be tied to graduation,” said Ashley Grant, director of the Postsecondary Readiness Project at ‎Advocates for Children of New York. “And New York state's a real outlier right now on this, so we're one of only 11 states that uses a high-stakes test as a graduation requirement or as an exit exam.” 

 “We're really calling for more meaningful and equitable pathways to graduation for all students, including ones that don't tie Regents exams to graduation,” Grant, who coordinates the Coalition for Multiple Pathways to a Diploma, said. Read article

03.29.2021 | The 74 | “3-K and Pre-K will never be ‘for all’ while preschoolers with disabilities are sitting at home without the classes they need,” said Kim Sweet, executive director of Advocates for Children. “Announcing a major expansion of 3-K with no plan to provide legally required classes to preschoolers with disabilities is a slap in the face to parents whose children need additional help — and is a violation of children’s civil rights.” Read article

03.24.2021 | Gothamist | The nonprofit Advocates for Children said there are not enough slots for students with disabilities, who require smaller classes with a special education teacher. They estimate a shortage of 1,000 to 2,000 seats for special education pre-school classes, plus hundreds more for bilingual special education pre-school classes. 

“3-K and Pre-K will never be ‘for all’ while preschoolers with disabilities are sitting at home without the classes they need,” said Kim Sweet, AFC’s Executive Director. “Announcing a major expansion of 3-K with no plan to provide legally required classes to preschoolers with disabilities is a slap in the face to parents whose children need additional help—and is a violation of children’s civil rights.” Read article

03.24.2021 | Chalkbeat New York | “We have heard from families desperate for help because their children with autism or other complex disabilities were going without appropriate services because there were no available seats in the type of class they needed,” the nonprofit Advocates for Children noted in a statement. “Yet, the mayor’s announcement today will do nothing to help these children.” 

Advocates for children with disabilities have been quick to point out that those students have consistently been left behind the mayor’s promises to make preschool universal. The city has regularly fallen short by hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of seats in special education pre-K classrooms, forcing students to go without instruction and legally required services such as speech or physical therapy. Part of the shortfall is due to stagnant funding from the state, resulting in the closure of many programs serving children with disabilities. Read article

03.24.2021 | NY Daily News | Advocates for Children, a group that represents students with disabilities, said the expansion comes with a major caveat: hundreds of preschoolers with disabilities still don’t have access to specialized classes. 

“3-K and Pre-K will never be ‘for all’ while preschoolers with disabilities are sitting at home without the classes they need,” said Kim Sweet, AFC’s Executive Director. “Announcing a major expansion of 3-K with no plan to provide legally required classes to preschoolers with disabilities is a slap in the face to parents whose children need additional help—and is a violation of children’s civil rights.” Read article

03.24.2021 | amNY | But while electeds touted the news, education advocates spoke up for special needs children who have largely been left out of the conversation when it comes to 3-K and Pre-K for All initiatives. “3-K and Pre-K will never be ‘for all’ while preschoolers with disabilities are sitting at home without the classes they need,” said Kim Sweet, executive director of the nonprofit Advocates for Children. “Announcing a major expansion of 3-K with no plan to provide legally required classes to preschoolers with disabilities is a slap in the face to parents whose children need additional help—and is a violation of children’s civil rights.” Read article

03.23.2021 | Forbes | "This is the fifth consecutive year that the number of New York City students experiencing homelessness has topped 100,000, a number that's steadily increased by more than 70% over the last decade," said Janyll Canals-Kernizan from Advocates for Children, which works to ensure a high-quality education for New York City students who face barriers to academic success. 

"There are many factors that contribute to rising rates of homelessness—a critical lack of affordable housing, domestic violence, food insecurity, job loss, low wages, and now a global pandemic—and while there's much the city can do to better support all unhoused New Yorkers, it's important to remember that students experiencing homelessness need specific support. Without a high school diploma, youth are 4.5 times more likely to experience homelessness later in life. That means that unless we are able to specifically address educational outcomes for students who are homeless and provide the support they need to access education, we will not be able to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness." Read article

03.19.2021 | City Limits | Ashley Grant, a director with Advocates for Children of New York, says they are particularly concerned about the impact of the pandemic on the city’s students of color, as well as English Language Learners (ELLs) and students with disabilities — groups disproportionately represented among students who need more than four years to graduate. Many older high schoolers have already overcome a number of educational barriers before COVID-19, and many work jobs in addition to their studies, she says.

“These are students who already are the most vulnerable and who may have become totally disconnected from school during the pandemic,” Grant says. Read article

03.16.2021 | The Hechinger Report | But after the pandemic hit, many routes to help were cut off. A study by the nonprofit Advocates for Children of New York found that in New York City alone, there was an 82 percent decline in referrals to early intervention services during a four-week period beginning in March 2020. Between July and September 2020, the number of infants and toddlers in New York City receiving services was 15 percent lower than in the same period in 2019. Read article

03.15.2021 | Gothamist |  Some students are simply overwhelmed trying to work multiple jobs and keep up with school. Attorney Ashley Grant from the nonprofit Advocates for Children said that is the case for many older students who attend transfer high schools. She said her organization is calling on the Department of Education to allow kids who are aging out of the school system an extra year to finish their diploma or other types of certificates, something it allowed for certain categories of older students last June. Read article