Advocates in NYC urged Mayor Adams for a $4 million
Advocates in NYC urged Mayor Adams for a $4 million budget to improve communication with immigrant families. Ig Cianainc

New York City advocacy groups for immigrant youth signed a petition Wednesday calling on Mayor Eric Adams to commit $4 million to boost services in the district's public schools for students or their parents who speak no or little English.

Adams and the City Council earlier this month came to an agreement to stave off a large funding cut to a program created during the pandemic for public schools with declining enrollment.

However, the push for immigrant family engagement remains at risk, as tens of thousands of parents with limited English skills seek asylum in New York, as an article in Daily News recalls.

"Reaching immigrant families requires more than just translation and interpretation," read the memo from Advocates for Children of New York, The Legal Aid Society, New York Immigration Coalition and other groups, according to the outlet.

According to NYC's Department of Education, about 38,000 migrant children have enrolled in the city's public schools since the influx began, including 20,000 this school year alone.

Advocates state that while public school families speak over 150 languages, the Department of Education only publishes communications online in the nine most widely spoken languages.

Under the program, which began three years ago, education officials work with local organizations and ethnic media to disseminate school-related information to parents who might otherwise be shut out of their children's education.

The policy also uses text messages, phone calls, and printed letters to communicate with families. It helps schools purchase interpretation equipment and funds campaigns in churches, supermarkets, and other venues such as hair salons to educate parents about their rights.

The organizations gathered last week at the Tweed Courthouse steps rallying in support of making New York's public schools more accessible and equitable for immigrant youth and families, including for asylum seekers.

For the Fiscal Year 2025, advocates asked the City to also increase investments in $25 million in Promise NYC for childcare for immigrant families, and $800,000 to expand the number of high schools well-prepared to teach and support immigrant and recently-arrived asylum seeker youth.

"We have to make sure that our parents are able to communicate, to get information in their languages, to be able to advocate for their children and get sure they are getting a propper education," an advocate said in the rally.

Regarding the $4 million program, titled "Family Communication and Outreach Initiative for migrant families in New York City Public Schools," she added that "Our families in New York City, in our schools, speak more than 156 languages. The problem is that although the DOE spends money on translations and interpretations, which is great, the information isn't actually getting families."

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