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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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News & Media

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05.15.2012 | In 1996, the New York State Education Department set in motion the phase out of the local diploma in an effort to have all students fulfill the requirements for the more rigorous Regents diploma. After 15 years of phase out and a last-minute proposal to extend the local diploma only for students with disabilities, up to 14,000 general education students in New York State who still rely on the local diploma to graduate from high school will now fail to graduate this June because the local diploma will no longer be available to them. Most will be Black, Hispanic, English Language Learners, poor, and in large urban areas. The Coalition for Multiple Pathways to a Diploma urges the State to take a thoughtful and comprehensive approach to creating alternative pathways to a high school diploma. Until New York develops multiple pathways to a diploma, however, we cannot eliminate current options, like the local diploma, that provide real opportunities for our young people. Learn what you can do to take action [PDF].

5.09.2012 | Advocates for Children of New York’s Spring Benefit on May 8, 2012 was a great success. Once again, The Rubin Museum was packed! Thank you to our over 500 supporters! Your continued generosity enables us to protect the education rights of every NYC child. 

spring benefit honorees

(Pictured left to right: Richard Beattie, recipient of Jill Chaifetz Award for Excellence in Educational Advocacy; Eric A. DeGiaimo, recipient of The Education Champion Award; and presenter, Harold Ford, Jr.)

05.01.2012 | AFC testified before the New York City Council Committee on Mental Health, Mental Retardation, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and Disability Services and the Committee on Education regarding the negative consequences that the city-wide shortage of school-based mental health services has on schools and their students. Read testimony [PDF]

4.19.2012 | Luisa Piñeiro Fuentes was an educator in the New York City public schools for 38 years, and served as principal at PS/MS 279 and PS 307. She fought constantly to establish a safe and loving environment in her schools, and to secure the necessary resources for any child in her community who was in need.

luisa pineiro fuentes     luisa pineiro fuentes

AFC is incredibly proud and honored that Ms. Fuentes' family and friends have selected AFC as the recipient of donations made in her memory in recognition of our shared mission “to protect every child’s right to learn.” Click here to learn more about Ms. Fuentes and to make a donation in her honor.

04.17.2012 | AFC Executive Director, Kim Sweet, is a member of the New York City Working Group on School Transformation, which released a report calling on the city’s Department of Education to support low-performing schools, rather than simply closing them. The Working Group, initiated by the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice and coordinated by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, grew out of a 2011 conference that presented successful alternatives to school closings. Read the report [PDF]

04.16.2012 | Mayor Bloomberg’s Preliminary Budget would cut 47,000 children from early childhood education and after-school programs.  To see what you can do to oppose these cuts, and to get an update on Early Intervention in the final state budget, please see our action alert [PDF].

03.29.2012 | AFC testified before the New York City Council Committee on General Welfare in opposition to the shortsighted, massive cuts to early childhood education programs proposed in Mayor Bloomberg’s Preliminary Budget. Read testimony [PDF]

03.09.2012 | Research demonstrates that the stimulation and interaction a child receives during the first five years of life are critical to permanent brain development. Under 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. These services can help infants and toddlers at the time when they can make the biggest difference.

Governor Cuomo’s 2012-2013 Executive Budget proposal would restructure EI, giving health insurance companies an unprecedented role in the program. AFC is urging state legislators to protect access to high-quality EI services and ensure that EI services are driven by children’s needs, not by their health insurance coverage.

Read a letter [PDF] from AFC expressing our concerns regarding this proposal.

Learn more about what you can do to take action [PDF].

image of stack of books with text overlaid reading 'literacy corner: resources on learning to read and write'

Policy Work

cover page of literacy reportReaching Every Reader: NYC Literacy Summit 
On December 9, 2021, Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), the NYC Department of Education, and the ARISE Coalition jointly hosted a Literacy Summit [PDF]—an all-day virtual event that brought 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. In May 2022, AFC issued a report, Reaching Every Reader: The Path Forward, that summarized key takeaways from the summit and articulated a clear vision for improving reading instruction in New York City schools. At the same time, 70 organizations released a Call to Collective Action, joining together around the shared goal of universal literacy and pledging to fight to ensure that every child in every classroom has the support they need to become a successful and lifelong reader.

Watch a video recording of the summit  
Read the report [PDF]
Read the Call to Collective Action [PDF]

cover of Turning the Page reportTurning the Page on Literacy Instruction in NYC Schools: Recommendations for the Fiscal Year 2022 Budget [PDF]
One of the most fundamental responsibilities of schools is to teach children how to read, and there is a mountain of scientific research on how to do so effectively. Yet far too many NYC students struggle to become skilled readers, while far too many schools continue to use ineffective curricula that are not aligned with the science, and far too many teachers have never been trained in evidence-based practice. As the City plans for education recovery, it must invest part of its $7 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funding in a comprehensive effort to revamp the way it provides reading instruction to all students and targeted interventions to students who need extra support.

"A is for All" report coverA is for All: Meeting the Literacy Needs of Students with and without Disabilities in the New York City Public Schools [PDF
In March 2016, AFC released this report documenting the need for urgent and sustained action to address the particularly low literacy levels for low-income students with disabilities. The report discusses the key elements for teaching reading effectively to all students, reviews research and case stories indicating that students with a wide range of disabilities are capable of learning to read if they receive appropriate instruction, highlights a number of promising programs in New York City, and provides recommendations for implementing systemic and lasting change.

Guides & Resources for Families

Note: The following resources are all in PDF format and will open in a new window. To view PDF files, download the following free software: Get Adobe® Reader®. If you are unable to access PDFs, please call our Helpline (866-427-6033) or email info@afcnyc.org, and we will be happy to provide the information in an alternative format.

first page of literacy q&a fact sheetfirst page of newsletterfirst page of reading milestones fact sheet

Questions & Answers about Literacy and Dyslexia 
En Español: Preguntas y Respuestas sobre la Alfabetización y la Dislexia 
This fact sheet answers frequently asked questions and explains how to get help if your child is struggling to learn to read. 

Reading Milestones: What your child should know and be able to do
This fact sheet describes what your child should be learning during each of their first few years of school in order to become a successful reader. It also lists common warning signs of future difficulty or disability.

Literacy and Parent-Teacher Conferences
En Español: Reuniones de padres y maestros: Preguntas para los maestros acerca de qué tan bien su hijo o hija está aprendiendo a leer o escribir 
This fact sheet provides suggestions for questions to ask your child’s teachers about how well they're learning to read and write. 

The Advocate: Special Edition on Literacy 
The Winter 2019 issue of AFC's newsletter for parents and professionals, The Advocate, was a special edition dedicated to literacy! Highlights include answers to frequently asked questions about reading instruction, phonics, and Orton-Gillingham; fact versus fiction when it comes to dyslexia; and much more. 

Click on the links below to learn more about each of AFC's advocacy priorities for the fiscal year 2021 City budget. 

Preschool special education classes [PDF]
While the City has added hundreds of seats in preschool special classes over the past year, too many preschoolers are waiting for the DOE to provide them with the preschool special class seats to which they are legally entitled. The City must allocate sufficient funding to provide a preschool special class seat—in district schools, Pre-K Centers, or community-based organizations (CBOs)—for every child who needs one. In addition, the City must extent salary parity to teachers of DOE-contracted preschool special education classes. Preschool special education programs already have difficulty recruiting and retaining teachers, who can earn far higher compensation in district schools, and without ensuring salary parity for this group of teachers, the City runs the risk that this talent will leave CBO preschool special classes in pursuit of higher salaries at public schools and CBO EarlyLearn/3-K/Pre-K classes—thereby exacerbating the troubling shortage of preschool special class seats. 

Support for students in foster care [PDF]
Approximately 6,000 NYC students are in foster care each year. For students who have been separated from their families and placed in foster homes, school has the potential to be an important source of stability. However, the DOE has long overlooked the needs of students in foster care, even though they are among the most likely to repeat a grade, be suspended, need special education services, and leave high school without a diploma. We recommend that the FY 2021 budget include and baseline funding to establish a small Department of Education office focused on supporting students in foster care. The budget should also include sufficient funds for the City to abide by federal and state law and guarantee bus service or a comparable mode of transportation so students in foster care do not have to switch schools.

Transfer school programs for recently arrived immigrant ELLs, ages 16-21 [PDF]
We urge the City to take steps to address the consistently low graduation rates and high dropout rates of the City’s English Language Learners (ELLs). Recently arrived immigrant students ages 16-21 and Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFE) are particularly vulnerable, as few DOE schools can serve and support them through graduation. According to a recent data analysis conducted by the Migration Policy Institute, New York City is home to over 4,200 high school-age immigrant youth who do not have a high school diploma but are not enrolled in school. The DOE’s “ELL Transfer Schools” are among the rare schools in the City that can provide a supportive learning environment for under-credited and over-age recently arrived immigrant students. Unfortunately, there are only five such schools, four of which are located in Manhattan, making it difficult for students in other boroughs to attend. To address the geographic limitations of the City’s ELL transfer schools and increase existing non-ELL transfer schools’ capacity to serve recently arrived immigrant youth, the City should allocate funding to pilot programs to support ELLs, ages 16–21, at existing transfer schools in Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. 

Strategic school climate investments [PDF
Black students—who comprise around a quarter of the New York City public school population—received more than half (52%) of all superintendent’s suspensions in the 2018-19 school year. In addition, each year, thousands of students with significant emotional, behavioral, and mental health disabilities continue to be removed from class by uniformed police officers and School Safety Agents and taken away from school by Emergency Medical Services when medically unnecessary. Many of these students are not getting the targeted, trauma-informed, and restorative supports, interventions, and services they need in school and, instead, are further traumatized by a law enforcement response to their mental health needs. In the FY 2021 budget, it is crucial that the City make strategic investments in: (a) a Mental Health Continuum to provide a range of direct services to students with significant mental health needs in high-needs schools, partnered with a hospital-based clinic; and (b) funding for the DOE to sustainably and effectively expand Restorative Justice programs citywide. 

Support for students living in shelters [PDF
In 2018-19, more than 114,000 City students experienced homelessness. More than 34,000 of these students spent time in shelters. While the City has placed 100 “Bridging the Gap” social workers and more than 100 Students in Temporary Housing Community Coordinators in schools with high numbers of students who are homeless, about 25,000 children in shelter attend schools without a Bridging the Gap social worker or Community Coordinator. Furthermore, as the number of family shelters and commercial hotels has grown, the number of shelter-based DOE staff has not kept pace, meaning that some students and families have no DOE support at their shelter at all. In the FY 2021 budget, the City should include and baseline funding for at least 50 DOE Students in Temporary Housing Community Coordinators to work in shelters to focus on meeting the educational needs of students who are homeless, as well as three managers to supervise and support the work of the Community Coordinators.