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City working to enroll children of asylum seekers in public schools

08.17.2022 | NY1 | Rita Rodriguez-Engberg, director of the Immigrants Students Rights project at Advocates for Children, says some families may want to seek bilingual programs, taught in English and Spanish. But not every school offers them. 

“All schools should be providing English as a new language, but not all schools have bilingual staff. You don’t need to be a bilingual teacher to teach English as a new language. And not all schools have bilingual social workers — which we assume these kids are probably going to need in order to help them with their social-emotional needs and any trauma that they’ve experienced,” she said. 

According to Rodriguez-Engberg, some families don’t even know they’re eligible to enroll their children in public school. 

“I think we have to start from the very beginning, making sure that anybody who is coming in contact with these families when they arrive is letting them know that they have the right to enroll in school, giving them the tools to do that, taking them if they need to to a family welcome center to help them enroll — and also working with them so they understand what their rights are,” she said. Watch video