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Students with Disabilities

Advocates for Children of New York has been protecting and promoting the educational rights of students with disabilities since 1971. As a result, we have unparalleled experience and expertise in special education, particularly in the New York City schools. All of AFC’s projects involve special education advocacy to some extent, as they target specific populations that tend to include a disproportionate share of students with disabilities.

AFC’s Project Thrive offers free legal representation and in-depth case advocacy to low-income families who need support obtaining appropriate school services for preschool and school-aged children with disabilities.

Our Parent Center helps families navigate the school system through free NYC educational rights workshops, community education events in English or Spanish, and a wide array of free know-your-rights resources.

In 2008, AFC founded the ARISE Coalition, a diverse group of parents, educators, and advocates working together to improve the education of students with disabilities in New York City’s public schools. AFC continues to coordinate and lead the coalition.

  • Asha and Ayanna's Story

    For six years, AFC and pro bono attorneys represented Asha and Ayanna to make certain the girls received the support they needed to be successful in school.

    asha and ayanna with parents
  • Omar's Story

    "I know our journey was a winding and difficult one and we thank you and your organization for helping Omar through it all so he could arrive to this point. I can't imagine how different my son's circumstances would've been without your advocacy."

  • Zio's Story

    When Zio, who is classified as autistic, came to AFC, he was 12 years old and had attended four different schools in six years, none of which had provided him with an appropriate education.

  • Naiomi's Story

    "Words cannot express the gratitude and joy Advocates for Children has brought to my family. We are so grateful for all the assistance AFC has provided to us in helping us get an IEP for Naomi, and we know that given all the right tools she will no longer be limited thanks to your help."

  • Kendall's Story

    Kendall graduated from Cooke’s high school in spring 2015, and with AFC's continued assistance, is beginning the transition to adulthood in Cooke's SKILLs (Skills and Knowledge for Independent Learning and Living) program, which helps young adults with disabilities build independent living and vocational skills.

    kendall school photo, kendall in costume

The Latest


AFC's Parent Center

Supported by a five-year grant from the United States Department of Education, AFC leads the New York Region 1 Parent Training and Information Center Collaborative. The Collaborative, which coordinates the parent centers for New York City and Long Island, includes Sinergia, IncludeNYC, and the Long Island Advocacy Center. We are also proud members of the New York State Parent Network.

Guides, tip sheets, and educational resources

Find more guides and resources on special education, in English and other languages, in our resource library

Webinars, workshops, and trainings

Our free trainings and workshops provide important information to help parents, communities, and professionals advocate effectively on behalf of their children