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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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05.21.2018 | On May 15, members of the ARISE Coalition, which is coordinated by AFC, and Parents for Inclusive Education (PIE) wrote to Mayor de Blasio and the New York City Council, urging them to ensure that the final FY 2019 budget includes the City Council’s recommendation for an additional $125 million for school accessibility projects. 

The 2015-2019 Capital Plan allocates only $100 million over five years for improving school accessibility and $28 million for ensuring that a number of schools can serve as accessible emergency shelters. Together, that represents less than one percent of the total funding in the Plan. Furthermore, the City has already spent the vast majority of this funding, leaving little, if any, funding for accessibility projects in the coming year. New York City cannot be the "fairest big city in America" until students, families, and teachers with physical disabilities have equitable access to the City’s schools.

Read the letters [PDF].

04.26.2018 | Today, Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), issued the following statement in response to the release of the New York City Fiscal Year 2019 Executive Budget: 

We are pleased that the City is allocating an additional $125 million to 854 high-needs schools through Fair Student Funding.  This much-needed funding will help schools pay for an extra staff member or a variety of programs to meet needs identified by each individual school.  

At the same time, there are important citywide needs that must be addressed through targeted investments and cannot be left to the discretion of individual schools.  To this end, we are encouraged that the City is increasing funding to provide anti-bias training and to help improve literacy for students, including students with disabilities, English Language Learners (ELLs), and students living in shelters.

But more work is needed to advance equity and excellence for students being left behind.  Before the budget process concludes, we hope that Mayor de Blasio and the City Council will increase funding in the following areas:

Support for Students who are Homeless:
With 100,000 students homeless, adding just 10 DOE school-based social workers to support students living in shelter is grossly inadequate.  While the City works to address the overwhelming problem of homelessness, they must invest in senior-level DOE leadership and a significant expansion of DOE social workers at schools and in shelters to mitigate the impact of homelessness on children and ensure they can get a high-quality education.

Evidence-Based Approaches to Improve School Climate:
In order to ensure that every child can attend a safe, high-quality school where students, teachers, and staff are treated with dignity and respect, the City must increase investments in direct mental health services for students and fund whole-school training for school staff in collaborative problem solving.  These evidence-based approaches help schools support students with challenging behaviors and were recommended by the Mayoral Leadership Team on School Climate and Discipline to keep students in school learning instead of punishing them through exclusionary discipline practices, which do not address the underlying causes of the behavior.

School Accessibility:
As he affirms his commitment to diversity and inclusion, the Mayor must address the severe shortage of accessible schools so that no child, parent, or teacher is turned away from a school because they cannot get in the doors.  The City Council should stand firm on its recommendation to invest an additional $125 million to make more schools accessible.

Bus Service for Students in Foster Care:
While the City took a significant step forward two years ago by offering yellow bus service to students living in shelters, the City must now extend bus service to students in foster care so they do not have to transfer schools mid-year due to lack of transportation.

We look forward to working with the Mayor and the City Council as the budget process continues to ensure the final budget invests in these critical areas.

View statement as a PDF

04.25.2018 | Today, Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), issued the following statement in response to the announcement by Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Johnson regarding the increase in funding for Fair Student Funding: 

We are pleased that the City is allocating an additional $125 million to 854 high-needs schools through Fair Student Funding.  Before the budget process concludes, the City must also increase funding for targeted supports for students who are currently being left behind and ensure funding is used to provide systemic solutions.  Only targeted investments will ensure that students living in shelters get the support of social workers to get to school every day and receive needed counseling, that students with behavioral challenges get direct mental health services and school staff trained in collaborative problem solving to help them stay in school, that kindergarten through sixth grade students placed in foster care get bus service so they do not have to transfer schools mid-year, and that students with physical disabilities have accessible schools so they are not sent far outside their neighborhoods because they cannot get in the doors of their local schools.

View statement as a PDF

03.23.2018 | On March 28th at 6pm, join the Junior Board of Advocates for Children of New York and NYU Law School's Disability Allied Law Students Association, Education Law & Policy Society, Black Allied Law Students Association, and Suspension Representation Project for a panel discussion on the school-to-prison pipeline. The panel will be moderated by AFC School Justice Project Director Dawn Yuster and will examine the different ways race and disability intersect with school discipline practices, the delivery of special education services, and graduation rates that together shape the school-to-prison pipeline. Please RSVP.

panel flyer

03.15.2018 | Today, Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) and Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York (CCC) called on Mayor de Blasio to provide critical support to students who are homeless, releasing a publication entitled Recommendations for Improving School Access and Success for Rising Numbers of Students in Temporary Housing [PDF].  In addition, sixteen leading child advocacy, education, and housing organizations sent a letter to Mayor de Blasio [PDF] urging him to include a significant infusion of resources in the budget to support these students.

In 2016-2017, a record 104,088 New York City students were identified as homeless—a 50 percent increase from just five years ago.  For the past two years, the Administration included $10.3 million in the budget to support students who are homeless, including funding for 43 Department of Education “Bridging the Gap” social workers to work with students living in shelters at schools with high populations of these students.  These social workers have provided counseling to students, connected them to academic support and mental health services, and worked to improve attendance.  

However, the Mayor’s recent budget proposal did not include any funding to continue these initiatives.  When asked about this omission, the Mayor stated that he was still determining what type of support to include for these students in the 2019 budget.

Given the number of students in temporary housing and the barriers they face to school success, the organizations are urging the Mayor to:

  1. Establish a Deputy Chancellor’s Office for Highly Mobile Students (including students in temporary housing and students in foster care)
  2. Hire Field Support Center Directors for Highly Mobile Students
  3. Increase the number of DOE Bridging the Gap school-based social workers for students in shelters from 43 social workers to 100
  4. Hire 50 DOE social workers to provide intensive supports at shelters to address education-related issues 

“With more than 100,000 students homeless, we have a crisis situation that demands high-level leadership from the Department of Education,” said Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children.  “The Mayor’s goals of equity and excellence require bold action to help ensure that students who are homeless can get to school every day and receive the counseling and academic support they need to succeed.” 

“The family homelessness crisis demands that City leaders take additional steps to better support homeless children both get to school and succeed in school,” said Jennifer March, Executive Director of Citizens’ Committee for Children.  “This starts with restoring the funding currently supporting social workers, but must also include prioritizing the needs of homeless students and investing in additional supports to reduce absenteeism and help homeless students thrive.”

View news release as a PDF

02.13.2018 | On February 12, 2018, AFC submitted testimony for the New York State Joint Legislative Public Hearing on the 2018-2019 Health Budget proposal, urging legislators to increase the reimbursement rate for Early Intervention providers and to reject a budget proposal to restructure the Early Intervention screening and evaluation process. View testimony [PDF]

Previously, on January 31, AFC testified at the hearing on the 2018-2019 Elementary and Secondary Education Budget proposal, urging state legislators to increase investments in education initiatives such as positive approaches to discipline, prekindergarten, and support for English Language Learners and to reject harmful special education proposals. View testimony [PDF]

02.01.2018 | Today, Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), issued the following statement in response to the release of the City’s Fiscal Year 2019 Preliminary Budget: 

We are appalled that the Mayor’s Preliminary Budget would eliminate funding for the DOE Bridging the Gap social workers for students living in shelters. Just yesterday, while testifying in Albany, Chancellor Fariña highlighted these social workers as a key accomplishment.  The Bridging the Gap social workers are providing critical support to students who are homeless, including providing counseling services, connecting students with academic support, and helping to combat chronic absenteeism.

Over the past five years, the number of students in temporary housing in NYC schools has increased by 50 percent to more than 100,000 students. During this time period, the only increase in DOE staffing targeted to serving this population was the addition of the 43 Bridging the Gap social workers who are only funded through the end of the 2017-2018 school year.  

The high number of students in temporary housing is a crisis that requires more of the City’s attention and resources. We call on the City to appoint high-level leadership, including a DOE Deputy Chancellor for Highly Mobile Students, to drive system-wide change; to fund 100 Bridging the Gap social workers to assist students living in shelters at schools with high populations of these students; and to begin placing DOE social workers at shelters, including the new shelters the City is opening, to help address barriers to education. Such an infusion of leadership and resources is needed to achieve equity and excellence for students who are homeless.

View statement as a PDF

12.22.2017 | In the fall of 2017, AFC with Greenberg Traurig, LLP filed federal complaints against the New York City Department of Education on behalf of four parents whose children did not receive the nursing services that they required to attend school. As a result of the lack of nursing services, two of the students were unable to attend school for two or more years. The complaints allege that the DOE’s failure to provide nursing services is a result of systemic problems within the DOE. The court in one instance had to issue an injunction ordering the DOE to provide the necessary nursing, transportation, and porter services for a student, noting at the hearing that the student’s denial of education over the past two years is a “Dickensian saga.”

Read the complaint [PDF]

View coverage by NBC New York

guide cover12.19.2017 | Advocates for Children has a new guide on preventing and addressing bullying! This guide describes bullying behavior and signs a child may be bullied. It also includes the education rights of students who are bullied or engaged in bullying behavior and attend NYC Department of Education schools, including special protections for students with disabilities. 

View the guide [PDF]

first page of data brief11.02.2017 | Today, Advocates for Children of New York is releasing a brief analyzing data reported by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) showing that Black students are significantly over-represented in NYPD “child in crisis” interventions – incidents involving students in emotional distress sent to the hospital for psychological evaluation.  The new data brief, entitled Children in Crisis: Police Response to Students in Emotional Distress [PDF], scrutinizes data made public as part of 2015 amendments to the Student Safety Act that require reporting of enhanced information on police activities involving students in New York City public schools. The brief examines the demographic characteristics of students involved in child in crisis interventions, as well as the NYPD’s use of handcuffs on students as young as 5 years old during these incidents between July 2016 and June 2017.

Read the news release [PDF]
Read the data brief [PDF]