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Paige’s Story

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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02.25.2019 | Today, Advocates for Children and the ARISE Coalition (coordinated by AFC) are both testifying before the New York City Council Committee on Education regarding the provision of special education services. The City must do more to extend the vision of equity and excellence in education to students with disabilities and to ensure that the needs of students with disabilities are considered and addressed in every DOE policy decision.

Read AFC's testimony [PDF]
Read the ARISE Coalition's testimony [PDF]

02.14.2019 | AFC submitted testimony for the New York State Joint Legislative Public Hearing on the 2019-2020 Health Budget proposal, urging legislators to increase the reimbursement rate for Early Intervention providers to help ensure children can get their services in a timely manner. Read testimony [PDF]

02.07.2019 | Today, Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) issued the following statement in response to the release of the City’s Fiscal Year 2020 Preliminary Budget:

The Preliminary Budget released today by Mayor Bill de Blasio would eliminate funding for the Department of Education’s Bridging the Gap social workers for students living in shelters.  Currently, there are 69 Bridging the Gap social workers who work in schools with high populations of students living in shelter, but the funding expires at the end of the school year.  For the past two years, the Mayor has omitted the funding from his Preliminary Budget, restoring the funding in his Executive Budget following an outcry from advocates and elected officials.  This year, the Mayor has, once again, omitted the funding from his Preliminary Budget.

“We are appalled that the Mayor continues to play budget games with critical supports for students living in shelters,” said Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York.  “With more than 100,000 students experiencing homelessness, the City should be increasing the number of Bridging the Gap social workers, not putting the continuation of the program in jeopardy.”

The Bridging the Gap social workers provide counseling to students who are homeless to help address the trauma often associated with housing loss, connect them to academic support and mental health services, and work to address chronic absenteeism.  

Since the 2010-2011 school year, the number of New York City students identified as homeless increased by 66%.  During the 2017-2018 school year, 114,659 students were identified as homeless by New York City school districts and charter schools.  More than 100 city schools have at least 50 students living in shelters and no Bridging the Gap social worker to focus on the needs of these students.  

View statement as a PDF

02.06.2019 | AFC is testifying at the New York State Joint Legislative Public Hearing on the 2019-2020 Elementary and Secondary Education Budget proposal, urging legislators to increase investments in education initiatives such as positive approaches to discipline, preschool special education programs, prekindergarten, and support for Multilingual Learners, and to reject harmful special education proposals. Read our testimony [PDF]

02.05.2019 | Ahead of a public hearing on proposed education funding in the New York state budget, the Safe and Supportive Schools Coalition urges lawmakers to expand support for school discipline reforms. Education advocates, community organizations and civil rights groups have called for an investment of $50 million dollars into school climate improvement measures, through legislation known as the Safe and Supportive Schools Act (A.1981/S.0767).

The Governor’s budget proposal included $3 million dollars for school discipline reform measures, including resources for teachers and school administrators to address student mental health, supports for alternatives to exclusionary discipline, and legislation to require school districts to reduce and regulate the role of police officers in schools. Education justice advocates welcome the Governor’s support but stress that the budget proposal must go further. 

Advocates call for the reforms to include a prohibition on suspending students in Kindergarten through third grade, an end to suspensions for minor infractions, a limit of 20 days for out-of-school suspensions, and an increase in positive behavioral supports and interventions for students.

A joint Senate and Assembly hearing on the education components of the state budget will take place in Albany on February 6. 

Rebecca Shore, Advocates for Children of New York: “While we are encouraged that the Governor included in his proposed budget funding for training teachers and school staff on alternatives to suspension, including restorative practices and positive behavioral supports, the proposed amount in the budget is not enough to meet the needs of the state.   An allocation of the recommended $50 million along with passage of the Safe and Supportive Schools Act is necessary.”

Read the press release [PDF]

The Safe and Supportive Schools coalition includes Advancement Project, Advocates for Children of New York, Alliance for Quality Education, Children’s Defense Fund, Citizen Action of New York, Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, The Legal Aid Society, Make the Road New York, New York Civil Liberties Union, Student Advocacy, Urban Youth Collaborative and the YWCA of Brooklyn. 

12.18.2018 | AFC testified before the New York City Council Committee on Education, Committee on Finance, and Subcommittee on Capital Budget in support of the proposal to include $750 million in the FY 2020-2024 Capital Plan to improve school accessibility. Read our testimony [PDF]

12.17.2018 | Today, Advocates for Children testified before the City Council Committee on General Welfare regarding recommendations for supporting students experiencing homelessness. Read our testimony [PDF]

11.29.2018 | Today, Advocates for Children of New York along with co-counsel Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP filed a complaint with the New York State Education Department against Success Academy Charter Schools and the New York City Department of Education (“DOE”) for failing to comply with civil rights laws protecting students with disabilities who attend Success Academy schools.  The complaint alleges that Success Academy has changed the placements of students with disabilities without following procedures required to protect the rights of students with disabilities and their parents and has refused to comply with administrative hearing orders in special education cases.

Read the news release [PDF]

Read the complaint [PDF]

11.02.2018 | Today, Advocates for Children, along with more than 30 other organizations, sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio calling on him to provide busing for kindergarten through sixth grade students in foster care. For students who have been separated from their families, school has the potential to be an important stabilizing factor in their life, but the City currently guarantees bus service only to students in foster care who receive special education transportation. Read the letter [PDF]

11.02.2018 | Today, Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), issued the following statement in response to the New York City Department of Education’s annual report of information regarding students receiving special education services pursuant to Local Law 27 of 2015:

The data released today showcase the need for better service delivery and a better data system for New York City’s more than 200,000 students with disabilities.

While the data show incremental improvements, we are alarmed that more than 20 percent of students with disabilities—nearly 40,000 students—are still going without the full special education instruction they are entitled to receive under the law.  Given the 40-point gap in reading proficiency between students with disabilities and their nondisabled peers, it is essential that the DOE ensure students with disabilities receive the instruction they need.

To help ensure students get the services they need, we also need data we can trust.  Two years ago, the DOE issued an assessment report on the Special Education Student Information System (SESIS) finding it “apparent that improvements are needed.”  But the data report released today shows that the DOE still lacks the internal systems to report data with the necessary accuracy.  The City must improve the reliability of its special education data and provide parents with full access to their child’s SESIS records so that parents can monitor their child’s special education evaluations, programs, and services.

View the DOE’s data report

View statement as a PDF