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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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11.16.2015 | Children born in 2011 are eligible to enter kindergarten in September 2016, and there are steps that families can start taking now to prepare for this important milestone! 

From November 16th through December 10th, the DOE is holding Kindergarten Orientation Meetings to provide information about the transition to kindergarten to families of students with disabilities born in 2011. These meetings will cover the kindergarten admissions process and the process of developing a kindergarten IEP. The schedule is available in English [PDF] and in other languages

From December 1st through December 16th, the DOE is holding Kindergarten Information Sessions to provide information about the kindergarten admissions process to families of all students born in 2011. The schedule is available here.

Please encourage families to attend these meetings!

Advocates for Children of New York has updated two resources to help families with the transition to kindergarten.

Updated Kindergarten Admissions Guide:
All families with children born in 2011 are encouraged to participate in the DOE’s kindergarten admissions process. Families can apply to up to 12 schools using one application form. They can complete this application form online, over the phone, or in person at a Family Welcome Center between December 7, 2015 and January 15, 2016. Please note that the application period is one month earlier than it has been in the past. For more information, please review and share AFC’s Kindergarten Admissions Guide, available in English [PDF] and Spanish [PDF].

Updated Turning 5 Guide:
In addition to applying to kindergarten, families with children born in 2011 who have IEPs will be participating in a second process—development of kindergarten IEPs. For comprehensive information about the transition to kindergarten for students with disabilities, please review and share AFC’s Turning 5 Guide, available in English [PDF] and Spanish [PDF].

We also encourage you to review and share the DOE’s kindergarten materials:

Both websites have very helpful information for families of children born in 2011.

We hope these resources will help you navigate the transition to kindergarten! If you have questions, please call AFC’s Education Helpline at 866-427-6033. Our Helpline is open from Monday – Thursday, 10:00am – 4:00pm.

November 2015 | This year marks the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (formerly called the Education for All Handicapped Children Act), which was signed into law by President Gerald Ford on November 29, 1975. This landmark legislation, which underlies almost all of Advocates for Children’s work on behalf of students with disabilities, ensured access to a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment for every child in the United States. Prior to 1975, the majority of children with disabilities were excluded from public school entirely, segregated from their non-disabled peers in sub-par settings, or left without the services and supports they needed to make educational progress. While there remains much work to be done to ensure students with disabilities not only have a seat in the classroom, but receive a quality education and equal access to opportunities once there, we mark this milestone by paying tribute to the families and advocates who paved the way. 

Read a letter from Executive Director Kim Sweet [PDF] marking this milestone.

For more on the history of the IDEA, see the U.S. Department of Education's website



A few AFC staff members reflect on what the IDEA means to them.


10.30.2015 | Today AFC submitted comments on the New York City Department of Education’s Proposed Community Schools Policy, which we view as an important vehicle for creating shared language and expectations around the City’s Community Schools Initiative. View comments [PDF]

10.26.2015 | On the evening of November 19, the ARISE Coalition (which is coordinated by AFC) and the Mental Health Association of New York City will be co-sponsoring a panel and parent speak out on behavior supports for students with disabilities. Download a larger, PDF version of the flyer in English and Spanish

behavior support speak out flyer

10.14.2015 | Congratulations to AFC Board member Caroline J. Heller, who has been named head of the firmwide Pro Bono Program at Greenberg Traurig, LLP! In addition to serving on our Board of Directors, Caroline is a superstar pro bono attorney. Last year, an 11-year-old AFC client, for whom Caroline secured placement in a private special education school, wrote her to say, "I think this letter is not enough to tell you thank you for everything you did for me. I really love my school. Not all kids have this chance but God helped to put you in my life. I’m so happy. My mom helped me to write this letter. She is so, so happy, she thinks everything is possible in this life. Thanks again and again and again."

10.01.2015 | For many years, AFC has been a federally funded Parent Training and Information Center. Today we are proud to announce the launch of the New York Region 1 PTIC Collaborative. Thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, we will be working with IncludeNYC, Sinergia, and the Long Island Advocacy Center to provide training and information to families of children with disabilities, as well as the professionals that work with them, throughout New York City and Long Island.

10.01.2015 | Today both AFC and the ARISE Coalition, which is coordinated by AFC, are testifying before the City Council Committee on Education about the new DOE structure for supporting schools and families. We are pleased that the new DOE structure includes a Family Support Coordinator in each Superintendent’s office who is responsible for addressing families’ concerns. In order for Family Support Coordinators to be effective, we have several recommendations. View AFC's testimony [PDF] and the ARISE Coalition's testimony [PDF].

09.21.2015 | AFC has created a brand-new fact sheet, Questions & Answers About Literacy [PDF] (also available in Spanish [PDF]), for families of students who are struggling with reading. The fact sheet explains how to get help for your child and some of the services and supports available for struggling readers. 

In addition, we also have a new fact sheet on language access for immigrant families, Translation and Interpretation Services in New York City Public Schools [PDF] (also available in Spanish [PDF] and Chinese [PDF]).  The fact sheet explains the rights of public school parents who do not speak English and how to get translation and interpretation services.

We have recently updated many of our other fact sheets to include the latest information, including:

To download translations, or to view even more publications on a variety of education-related topics, please visit our resource library

09.02.2015 | The first day of school is Wednesday, September 9! In preparation, we've updated our back-to-school fact sheet for families of students with disabilities, which covers concerns that typically come up at this time of year, such as what to do if a child does not yet have a school assignment or the school assigned says they cannot serve the child’s needs; how to find an accessible school; and arranging for specialized transportation. View the fact sheet in English [PDF] and Spanish [PDF].

If you have additional questions or need assistance, call AFC’s Education Helpline: (866) 427-6033, Monday—Thursday, 10am—4pm.

08.12.2015 | In July 2015, the New York City Department of Education (DOE) changed the structure of the offices that support schools, students, and families. We want to give you information about the new structure and let you know how to get help, especially since one of the DOE’s goals of the new structure is to make it easier for parents to get help.

If you cannot resolve problems at the school level, you should contact the superintendent’s office.

All DOE public schools other than specialized District 75 or District 79 schools are located in a geographic district (1-32). To find the district of your child’s school, go to the school’s website and look on the right hand side, or enter your child’s school on the DOE’s website, schools.nyc.gov. Each district has a community superintendent who supervises the principals of elementary and middle schools in the district. In addition, there are 11 high school superintendents who supervise the principals of high schools in one or more districts.

In the past, families could contact an office called the Children First Network when they could not resolve problems at the school level. However, most Children First Networks have closed. Under the new structure, families should contact the superintendent’s office. Each superintendent’s office will have a Family Support Coordinator who is responsible for working with families to resolve problems. If your superintendent’s office does not yet have a Family Support Coordinator, the superintendent’s office will tell you which staff member will assist you. Each office also has a District Family Advocate, who works on family engagement.

A list of superintendents, Family Support Coordinators, District Family Advocates, and contact information is available on the DOE's website. This list is still being formed, as people are still being hired. You can also find the phone number for the district superintendent’s office on the right hand side of the website of your child’s school. 

District 75:
Families of students with disabilities who attend specialized District 75 schools should continue to contact the central District 75 superintendent’s office when you are not able to get a problem resolved at the school level.

District 79:
Families of students who attend District 79 alternative schools and programs should continue to contact the central District 79 superintendent’s office when you are not able to get a problem resolved. 

Students with disabilities in preschool, charter schools, and private schools:
The ten regional Committee on Special Education (CSE) offices will continue to be responsible for special education services for preschoolers, charter school students, and private school students with disabilities. 

If you have questions about your child’s education or are having trouble resolving a problem, you can call AFC’s Education Helpline at 866-427-6033. Our Helpline is open from Monday-Thursday, 10am-4pm.