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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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News & Media


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]

Winter 2022 | Click on the links below to learn more about each of AFC's advocacy priorities [PDF] for the Fiscal Year 2023 City budget. 

Ensure Every Student Learns to Read [PDF
One of the most fundamental responsibilities of schools is to teach children how to read. Yet far too many New York City students struggle to become skilled readers: less than half of all students in grades 3–8, and only 36% of Black and Hispanic students and 16% of students with disabilities, are reading proficiently, according to the 2019 state exams. The City should invest $125 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding in FY 2023 to provide one-on-one or small group evidence-based reading intervention to students who need this support to become skilled readers.

Support English Language Learners and Immigrant Families [PDF]
The nearly 139,000 English Language Learners (ELLs) in New York City public schools require targeted language and academic instruction to meet their unique needs. The City should launch programs at existing DOE transfer schools in Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx to increase those schools’ capacity to serve recently arrived, immigrant ELLs ages 16-21 ($2M), and establish the position of ELL Instructional Specialist at schools with a high number of underperforming ELLs to ensure they receive appropriate instruction and support ($12M).

In addition, with most of the DOE’s family-facing communication currently happening online and via email, many immigrant parents are left in the dark and without access to information to participate in their children's education. The DOE should establish a permanent, central system of immigrant family communications that takes into account families’ varying levels of literacy and access to digital media ($6M).

Address the Shortage of Preschool Special Education Classes [PDF]
We have been deeply concerned about the number of preschoolers who have had to wait for the DOE to provide them with the preschool special education classes to which they are entitled—even as the City has expanded 3-K and Pre-K for All. The FY 2023 budget should add $30 million for the City to provide preschool special education teachers and staff at community-based organizations (CBOs) with salaries on par with their 12-month DOE counterparts, so that the City can open classes to provide a preschool special education class for every child who needs one.

Guarantee Bus Service for Students in Foster Care & Staff the DOE Foster Care Team [PDF]
More than 7,000 children are in foster care in New York City. When students are removed from their homes and families and placed into foster care, school is often the only source of stability in their lives. No student in care should be forced to change schools due to lack of transportation. The FY 2023 budget should include $5 million to guarantee bus service or a comparable mode of door-to-door transportation to students in foster care who need it to stay in their original schools.

Last fall, the City announced a first-ever team at the Department of Education devoted to meeting the unique needs of students in foster care. But with the City’s hiring freeze, this promise, and critical support for these students, remains on hold. To date, only two of the eleven positions have been posted, and none have been filled—meaning there is still not a single staff member at the DOE focused solely on students in foster care. We urge the City to lift the freeze on all DOE foster care team positions and move forward with hiring leadership and staff to work across agencies, develop policies that better serve students in care, and tackle the barriers that limit students’ educational success. 

Support Students and Families in Shelter [PDF]
The 28,000 students who spend time in shelter each year—94% of whom are Black or Latinx—face significant barriers to educational success. Currently, however, there are not enough staff working on the ground in shelters who have the skills and knowledge necessary to help families navigate the school system, address barriers to attendance, and resolve educational problems. The DOE recently received over $9 million in American Rescue Plan funding specifically to support students who are homeless and is poised to receive another $20+ million in the coming months, but has not yet decided how to spend this funding. To ensure students who are homeless can access a high-quality education, the budget should include $18 million to add least 150 shelter-based DOE Students in Temporary Housing Community Coordinators.

Fund a Comprehensive Integrated System of Behavioral and Mental Health Supports for Students [PDF]
The past two years have presented unprecedented challenges that have uniquely impacted the mental health and wellbeing of our students. However, too often when students are struggling, they are met with exclusionary school discipline and policing practices that only further traumatize them and perpetuate the school-to-prison pipeline, disproportionately harming Black and Brown students and students with disabilities. The City should fund a comprehensive integrated system of behavioral and mental health supports for students, including: baselining $5 million for the Mental Health Continuum, a model for integrating a range of direct services to students with significant mental health needs in high-needs schools partnered with hospital-based clinics; doubling the number of school-based mental health clinics; funding the Citywide expansion and implementation of school-wide restorative justice practices ($118M in FY 2023); and expanding inclusive school programs for students with emotional, behavioral, or mental health disabilities.

03.21.2022 | Today, AFC is testifying before the City Council Committee on Education regarding the FY 23 preliminary education budget, urging the City to reject proposed cuts to education, including the DOE hiring freeze, and invest in initiatives to support the students with the greatest needs. 

Read our testimony [PDF]

03.09.2022 | Many students with disabilities had a difficult time making progress in school during the pandemic, and need extra supports and services to get back on track. AFC's newest tip sheet covers the individualized Special Education Recovery Services (“SERS”) the NYC Department of Education is offering for students with IEPs who attend NYC DOE schools, including: the types of services available; when services are offered; and what to do if you don’t agree with the services your child is offered.

Read the tip sheet [PDF]
See more special education resources

03.08.2022 | Today, as part of AFC's ongoing litigation on behalf of students with disabilities who have not received an appropriate education during remote learning, the court issued an order extending the time for families to file impartial hearing requests for claims for compensatory services.  The order gives parents until November 3, 2022, to file claims for compensatory services for the denial of appropriate services during remote learning.

Learn more about the case, Z.Q. v. NYC Department of Education
Read the court order [PDF]

02.28.2022 | Today, AFC is testifying before the City Council Committee on Education on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on English Language Learners and immigrant students and families, and three proposals that advocates believe will have a positive impact on ELLs and immigrant  families.

Read our testimony [PDF]

02.25.2022 | Today, AFC testified before the New York City Council Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities and Addiction on the youth mental health crisis and the urgent need for a comprehensive system to ensure that our young people have access to and receive behavioral and mental health supports in schools.

Read our testimony [PDF]

December 2021 | On December 9th, as City leaders prepare for the transition to a new administration, Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), the NYC Department of Education, and the ARISE Coalition are jointly hosting a Literacy Summit to build a shared vision for universal literacy. 

Improving the quality of literacy instruction is a matter of racial, economic, and disability justice. Literacy is the foundation for all future learning and essential for full participation in civic life. Yet more NYC students are reading below a basic level than are reading proficiently, and disparities by race, disability, language, and housing status are alarming.

We hope you'll join us as we bring together diverse stakeholders and experts from around the country to explore current challenges in reading instruction, strengthen our commitment to advancing equitable outcomes for all students, and plan for the future.

Register for the Summit

Join the Call to Collective Action

Browse AFC's literacy resources


View the full program & speaker bios [PDF]

10:00 – 10:15 | Welcome

10:15 – 10:45 | Keynote Address

Lacey Robinson, Chief Executive Officer, UnboundEd 

11:00 – 12:00 | Evidence-Based & Culturally Relevant Practices: Working at the Intersection for Equity 

Dr. Linnea Ehri, Distinguished Professor, CUNY Graduate Center
Dr. Katie Pace Miles, Assistant Professor, Brooklyn College
Dr. Susan B. Neuman, Professor, New York University
Dr. Julie Washington, Professor, University of California – Irvine

12:45 – 1:45 | All means ALL: Diversifying Literacy to Meet the Needs of Every Student 

Dr. Nadine Gaab, Associate Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education 
Dr. Jan Hasbrouck, Researcher, Educational Consultant, and Author
Dr. Devin Kearns, Associate Professor, University of Connecticut 
Dr. Claudia Rinaldi, Professor of Education, Lasell University 

2:00 – 3:00 | How Do We Move Forward: Understanding the Shared Responsibility Around Literacy 

Jenny Bogoni, Executive Director, Read by 4th Campaign at the Free Library of Philadelphia
Dr. Kymyona Burk, Senior Policy Fellow, ExcelinEd
Margaret Goldberg, Co-founder, The Right to Read Project
Dr. Tracy Weeden, President and CEO, Neuhaus Education Center
Katie Kurjakovic, Assistant to the Vice President for Education, United Federation of Teachers
Maggie Siena, Principal, P.S. 343 The Peck Slip School 

3:15 – 3:30 |  Closing Remarks 

Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter