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Paige, a bright third grade student on the autism spectrum, sat at home for nearly two months waiting for a school placement that would meet her needs. 

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09.21.2022 | Today, AFC is testifying before the City Council Committee on Education about the serious obstacles that students with disabilities and their families continue to experience every day on the ground. Every day, Advocates for Children hears from parents struggling to get their children with disabilities the education they need. Read our testimony [PDF]

08.26.2022 | AFC's newest fact sheets cover key enrollment information and language supports for migrant students. The one-pagers -- one for each borough in NYC -- are available in English and Spanish. Get the fact sheets

08.23.2022 | We've updated our annual factsheet for families of students with disabilities, which covers issues NYC families often encounter at the start of the school year, including enrollment, busing, placement, and more. The factsheet is available in English and Spanish, and will be updated through the fall as more information becomes available. 

Get the factsheet in English [PDF] and Spanish [PDF].

08.22.2022 | Today, AFC is testifying before the City Council Committee on Education about the impact of the school budget cuts.  We are calling on the City to restore funding for school budgets and also continue key investments targeted to students with the greatest needs.  Read our testimony [PDF]

07.08.2022 | Today, Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) joined more than 30 organizations to call on the City to honor its commitment to fully staff a DOE team dedicated to meeting the unique educational needs of students in foster care, and to meet its obligation under law to provide busing for this population. The City has the chance to reverse decades of underservice and make support for students in foster care a top priority. The educational needs of students in foster care raise issues of justice and equity that cannot continue to be overlooked. Read the letter [PDF]

06.24.2022 | Today, Advocates for Children of New York is testifying before the City Council Committee on Education and Committee on Oversight and Investigations regarding our deep concerns about school budget cuts. Read our testimony [PDF]

first page of data brief06.09.2022 | Today, Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) released a new data analysis, More than Translation: Multi-Faceted Solutions for Communicating with NYC’s Immigrant Families, estimating that more than 329,000 public school students do not have a parent who speaks English fluently and calling on Mayor Adams and the City Council to invest $6 million in the FY 2023 budget to establish a permanent, central system for immigrant family communications at the Department of Education (DOE). While the FY 2022 budget included $4 million in one-year funding for targeted outreach and communication to immigrant families, Mayor Adams did not extend it in his Executive Budget; unless the Mayor and Council take action to include it in the adopted budget, set to be finalized as soon as this week, it will expire at the end of June.

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey (ACS), the analysis illustrates the need for multi-faceted approaches to communication that go beyond making translated documents available online. For example:

  • An estimated 55,585 students’ parents have no more than an 8th grade education in addition to not being proficient in English. This potentially limits their ability to read and understand translated materials from the DOE explaining complex processes, systems, and regulations—documents that can often be confusing even for native English speakers with college degrees.

  • An estimated 61,657 children of Limited English Proficient (LEP) parents live in households without broadband internet access, meaning that information communicated to families online or via email is unlikely to reach them in a timely manner, if at all.

  • An estimated 29,608 students’ parents have limited English proficiency and communicate in a language outside of the top nine (Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Urdu) into which DOE documents are routinely translated.

 
“Our on-the-ground experience working with families has shown us that many parents never receive critical information when it is only available via translated documents posted online,” said Diana Aragundi, staff attorney at AFC. “For example, we have worked with immigrant parents who primarily speak languages like Nahuatl or Mixtec and so are forced to rely on their second language, Spanish, in order to communicate with their children’s schools, even though they have limited literacy in Spanish.”

“My child’s school sends me information by email. I don’t know how to use email that well. And the emails are always in English, even though the school knows I do not speak English. I have to ask my children for help to understand what the email says” said Florentina, a Spanish-speaking parent of 10- year-old in a Bronx school.

Ensuring that immigrant parents get needed information and can play a meaningful role in their children’s education requires multi-faceted approaches that take into account their varying levels of literacy and access to digital media. The DOE has been meeting with a work group to determine the most effective uses for the $4 million it received last year, including using local ethnic media to share updates from the DOE, sending paper notices to families’ homes, reaching families over telephone and text message, and collaborating with immigrant-facing community-based organizations (CBOs) to create and launch information campaigns. This important work requires funding to continue.

“We work with so many immigrant families who have felt sidelined in their child’s education or who have been left in the dark because no one from the DOE, including their children’s schools, tried to communicate with them in a way they could actually understand,” said Rita Rodriguez-Engberg, director of AFC’s Immigrant Students’ Rights Project. “If the new administration is serious about its desire to empower parents as true partners, then the City should be increasing—and certainly not cutting—the multi-faceted immigrant family communication and outreach initiative. ”

Read the report [PDF]
View the press release as a PDF

06.06.2022 | Today, Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) joined more than 200 organizations and individuals in calling on Mayor Adams to invest $5 million to continue the Mental Health Continuum, an innovative, evidence-based model for supporting students with significant mental health needs by integrating a range of direct services and developing stronger partnerships between schools and hospital-based mental health clinics. 

The Mental Health Continuum represents the first-ever cross-agency collaboration to help students with significant mental health challenges access direct mental health services in school and connect students to other services throughout the City. This model prioritizes wellness through school partnerships with hospital-based mental health clinics; NYC Well hotline expansion to advise school staff; child mobile response teams to respond to students in crisis; direct mental health services; School-Based Mental Health staff; Collaborative Problem Solving training, an evidence-based approach to building school staff capacity to better manage student behavior; and family engagement. The model is currently launching in 50 high-needs schools in the South Bronx and Central Brooklyn.

In FY 22, the City allocated $5 million for the Mental Health Continuum for only one year so, unless extended in the adopted budget, the funding for this critical initiative will expire in June 2022 — just when it is getting off the ground in schools that are relying on it.  

Read the letter [PDF]

04.29.2022 |  More than 30 organizations released a letter calling on Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks to use federal COVID-19 relief funding specifically designated for students in temporary housing to hire 150 shelter-based Department of Education Community Coordinators. Community Coordinators can provide crucial supports for students in shelter, helping students get to school every day and connecting them with the supports and services they need to be successful in school.

With 60% of students living in shelter chronically absent from school, it is important to have someone on the ground in the shelter who can partner directly with families, determine why a particular child is missing school, and resolve the problem. The DOE is getting American Rescue Plan-Homeless Children and Youth (ARP-HCY) funds specifically to support students in temporary housing. The DOE submitted a plan to use part of its funding to hire 50 shelter-based community coordinators, but 50 is not nearly enough to serve the 28,000 students who spend time in shelters each year. The DOE must submit a plan in the next month for its remaining $24 million in ARP-HCY funding. The groups are urging the City to use this opportunity to tackle chronic absenteeism for students living in shelter and create lasting change by providing families and students with support where it’s needed most.

Read the letter [PDF]
View the news release as a PDF

04.20.2022 | Today, AFC is testifying before the City Council Committee on Education regarding the educational needs of students in foster care.  We are urging the City to fully staff a small DOE team focused on students in foster care and guarantee bus service so students don’t have to transfer schools when placed in foster care. Read our testimony [PDF]