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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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04.04.2013 | Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) filed a complaint today with the New York State Education Department against the NYC Department of Education (DOE) for its failure to provide students with disabilities necessary behavioral supports as mandated by law. Providing these supports has been shown to decrease behaviors that often result in removing students from the classroom and/or suspending students. Read the complaint here: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5. Read the press release.

03.22.2013 | In November 2013, NYC will elect its next mayor. The Junior Board of Advocates for Children and NYU Law's Education Law and Policy Society invite you to attend a panel discussion on the potential changes to education policy that a new administration may bring. Kim Sweet, the Executive Director of Advocates for Children, will moderate the discussion.

"Change on the Horizon: Visions for the Next Mayor's Education Platform"
Thursday, April 4th, 7pm
NYU School of Law
Vanderbilt Hall Room 210
40 Washington Square South 

Refreshments will be provided. We encourage you to RSVP if you are able to attend: http://changeonthehorizon.eventbrite.com/

 

03.22.2013 | Join Advocates for Children and the Center for Attention and Learning at North Shore LIJ/ Lenox Hill Hospital for a two-part training series on learning disabilities, evaluations, programs and related services. View flyer

03.18.2013 | Today AFC testified before the City Council General Welfare Committee to urge city leaders to reject proposed cuts to early learning programs in New York City. View testimony

03.05.2013 | The International Visitor Leadership Program, which includes human rights activists from several countries in the Middle East and is coordinated by the Department of State, visited the offices of Advocates for Children of New York on March 5, 2013. The group met with AFC's Executive Director, Kim Sweet, and Special Education Policy Coordinator, Maggie Moroff, to learn how AFC works to increase access to an appropriate education for all students in NYC.

the delegation

02.20.2013 | AFC has a new guide to charter school discipline! This guide explains discipline for charter school students, what to do if your child has been suspended from a charter school, how to appeal a charter school's suspension decision, and your rights throughout the process. The guide also includes information for families of students with disabilities who have been suspended. View the guide

02.08.2013 | AFC has a new guide to kindergarten admissions for families of children born in 2008! This guide explains the kindergarten admissions process, answers frequently asked questions, and includes information for families of students with disabilities, ELLs, and students in temporary housing. View the guide

02.08.2013 | Today AFC testified before the Education Committee of the New York City Council about the cost of pupil transportation in NYC and the impact of the bus strike on the families we serve. AFC has heard from countless families struggling to get their children to and from school during the strike – a strike which for three weeks now has left great numbers of students with special education needs without the free, appropriate, public education they are entitled to under law. View testimony

01.30.2013 | Today, AFC submitted testimony urging the New York State Legislature to ensure that the state budget protects access to high-quality Early Intervention services that are driven by children’s needs, not by their health insurance coverage....View testimony

01.25.2013 |  

Background: 

Brain research demonstrates that the stimulation and interaction a child receives during the first five years of life are critical to permanent brain development. As part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Early Intervention (EI) program provides evaluations and services to infants and toddlers who have developmental delays or disabilities and their families. Early Intervention is cost-effective and helps infants and toddlers at the time when services can make the biggest difference.

Budget Proposal: 

Governor Cuomo’s 2013-2014 Executive Budget proposal would restructure Early Intervention, linking EI services with health insurance coverage. While we support the goal of requiring private health insurance companies to contribute to the cost of EI, we are concerned about parts of the proposal. Among other provisions, the budget proposal would:

  • Allow a health insurance representative to be part of the team that develops and reviews a child’s Individualized Family Services Plan (IFSP), giving the health insurance company a voice in determining a child’s EI services for the first time. 
  • Require EI providers to join health insurance networks, negotiate their reimbursement rates with health insurers, and exhaust all appeals of claim denials by health insurers before being paid by EI, likely leading to a further reduction in the number of experienced EI providers available to serve children. 
  • Require children to be evaluated and served by evaluators and service providers within the children’s health insurance network, without a clear process for obtaining an exception for children who need specialized service providers.

The Executive Budget proposal would also change the EI evaluation system. Children who already have a diagnosed physical or mental condition likely to result in a developmental delay would no longer have the right to a full initial evaluation, making it harder to determine the type and amount of services that would be appropriate.

TAKE ACTION: 

Call or e-mail your state legislators and tell them that you are concerned that the Early Intervention proposals in the Health and Mental Hygiene Article VII Budget Bill would make it harder to access high-quality EI services. Tell legislators that they should not allow health insurance representatives to participate in IFSP meetings; should reject the proposed restrictions on the evaluators and service providers available to serve children; and should ensure that providers are paid at sufficient rates so that they continue working with young children. A sample e-mail is below.

To reach your state legislators, call the Senate switchboard (518-455-2800) and Assembly switchboard (518-455-4100) and give your zip code. Alternatively, you can find your NY State Senator here and your NY Assembly Member here. E-mail lists are available here and here.

Key legislators include: 

Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried:
GottfriedR@assembly.state.ny.us or 518-455-4941

Senate Health Committee Chair Kemp Hannon:
hannon@nysenate.gov or 518-455-2200

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver:
Speaker@assembly.state.ny.us or 518-455-3791

Senate Co-Leader Dean Skelos:
skelos@nysenate.gov or 518-455-3171

Senate Co-Leader Jeffrey Klein:
jdklein@senate.state.ny.us or 518-455-3595

Sample e-mail: 

Protect Early Intervention
As a [parent of a child who receives Early Intervention services], I am very concerned about the Early Intervention budget proposals. First, just as health insurance representatives do not participate in meetings between doctors and patients, health insurance representatives should not be able to participate in IFSP meetings. The role of health insurance companies should be to help pay for services, not to decide what services are appropriate. Second, I am concerned that the proposal would restrict access to services by requiring the use of in-network evaluators and providers without a clear process for getting an exception. Young children should have access to the most appropriate EI providers regardless of their health insurance networks. Third, I am concerned that the requirements that EI providers negotiate their rates with health insurance companies and file appeals of health insurance claim denials will drive experienced providers from the EI field, making it harder for young children to access the services they need. Fourth, I am concerned that children who already have a diagnosed physical or mental condition likely to result in a developmental delay would no longer have the right to a full initial EI evaluation, making it harder to determine the type and amount of services that would be appropriate.

Please ensure that the budget addresses these concerns and protects access to high-quality EI services.

For more information and updates, please sign up for the Advocates for Children of New York listserv or contact Randi Levine at rlevine@advocatesforchildren.org.

Forward this alert to others who may be interested in taking action.