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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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07.30.2019 | Today, Advocates for Children and the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) jointly submitted comments to the New York City Department of Education on proposed changes to the New York City Discipline Code for the 2019-2020 school year. Read our comments [PDF]

05.23.2019 | Today, Advocates for Children is testifying before the City Council Committee on Finance on the importance of increasing funding for several education priorities, including school social workers, direct mental health support for students, and educational support for students who are homeless and students in foster care. The ARISE Coalition, which is coordinated by AFC, is also testifying in support of proposed investments in school accessibility and special education.

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

Spring 2019 | On March 20, 2019, we testified [PDF] before the City Council Committee on Education on the preliminary budget and the importance of increasing funding for school social workers, direct mental health support for students, educational support for students who are homeless and students in foster care, and preschool special education programs. Click on the links below to learn more about each of AFC's advocacy priorities for the fiscal year 2020 City budget. 

Support for students who are homeless [PDF
In 2017-18, a record 114,659 New York City students were identified as homeless—a 66 percent increase since the 2010-11 school year. The final FY 19 budget included $13.9 million in one-year funding for Department of Education (DOE) support for students experiencing homelessness, including “Bridging the Gap” social workers to work with students living in shelters at schools with high numbers of these students, after-school literacy programs at shelters, and enrollment support for families. There is no funding in the FY 20 Preliminary Budget to continue these initiatives or for any other new supports for students who are homeless. The FY 20 budget must include and baseline last year's $13.9 million and add and baseline an additional $6.5 million to increase the number of DOE social workers dedicated to supporting students in shelters, establish an Education Support Center at the City’s shelter intake center, and increase the number of Students in Temporary Housing Central and Regional Managers. 

On March 5, 2019, AFC and more than a dozen 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 students experiencing homelessness. 

Support for students in foster care [PDF]
Approximately 5,600 New York City students are in foster care. Students in foster care are among the most likely to need special education services, get suspended, repeat a grade, or leave high school without a diploma. Students often have to change schools upon their initial placement in foster care in New York City because they have no way to get to their original schools. The FY 2020 budget should include $5 million for yellow bus service for students in grades K-6 in foster care to ensure school remains a source of stability in their lives. The budget should also include and baseline $1.5 million to establish a Department of Education office focused on supporting students in foster care with central and borough-based staff.

On April 22, 2019, AFC joined 30 child welfare and education organizations in sending a letter to the Mayor [PDF] calling on him to increase support for students in foster care by including funding in the FY 2020 budget for these two initiatives.

School accessibility [PDF
Less than 1 in 5 of the City’s schools are fully accessible. Given the current lack of fully accessible school buildings, students with physical disabilities have limited options when applying to pre-K, elementary, middle, and high school programs. The proposed 5-year DOE Capital Plan (FY 2020-2024) includes $750 million for school accessibility, starting with $150 million for FY 20. We recommend that the final Capital Plan include at least this funding level, which would represent the largest capital funding investment in school accessibility to date.  

Investments to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline [PDF
Every child deserves to attend a high-quality school with staff who have the necessary tools and resources for building healthy, supportive, safe, and equitable learning environments for students and educators. We urge the City to invest in a comprehensive reform package that includes increasing the number of social workers; expanding whole-school restorative practices citywide; and investing in a mental health continuum to provide direct services to students at high-needs schools.

03.27.2019 | Advocates for Children signed on to an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Department of Commerce v. New York, challenging the proposed question on the 2020 census concerning citizenship status. The brief argues that including a citizenship question on the census will result in an undercount of immigrant communities. This undercount will result in the misallocation of education and community resource funding and harm students and their families. 

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

03.27.2019 | Tonight, AFC is testifying before the Panel for Educational Policy in support of the City’s proposal to include $750 million to improve school accessibility in the 2020-2024 Capital Plan. That investment in accessibility, the City’s largest to date, will literally open doors to include and integrate individuals who are far too often excluded because of their accessibility needs. Read testimony [PDF]

03.20.2019 | Today, AFC is testifying before the City Council Committee on Education on the importance of increasing funding for several education priorities, including school social workers, direct mental health support for students, educational support for students who are homeless and students in foster care, and preschool special education programs. Read our testimony [PDF]

02.27.2019 | Today, Advocates for Children is testifying before the New York City Council Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities and Addiction regarding the gap in access to direct mental health services and behavior supports for students with significant emotional, behavioral, and mental health needs. Read our testimony [PDF]

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]

02.06.2019 | 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]