I have been a board member for several years, and have had the opportunity to see a tremendous professional growth in both the agency and the staff. While there might be others who may be able to offer similar services, there is nowhere else, and no one else available to help students and families with limited or no financial resources. The respect that the agency receives from the school districts, courts, DSS, Probation and other social service agencies is a clear testament to the expertise and abilities of our talented staff.
I've helped mobilize several major communities in Westchester County to address chronic truancy. Student Advocacy has been a powerful voice for families, and it has consistently helped inform our collaborative discussions with fresh viewpoints that have helped us understand how schools can make internal adjustments (relating to safety, transportation, school choice, special education services offered, etc.) that can help remove barriers to consistent attendance by children who have been chronically truant. As a result our collaborative work has been more balanced and effective. Student Advocacy has been widely recognized as a unique and vital resource for families experiencing educational difficulties, that helps families and schools work together more effectively.
I have known of this agency for 26 years.I admire the work they do and hear regularly about their successes. Since the staff help many young women and girls be successful in school, they are empowering them and helping them to have successful lives.
Many of the youth who come to my shelter have long-term conflicts at home. We work hard to tease out all the factors contributing to the struggles. Not surprising, school related problems are often a major factor. Student Advocacy is made up of dedicated and intellent attorneys and advocates who get the student record, work to understand the complexities of the family and the academic struggle. They help parents (ususlly mothers, often single mothers with a list of their own problems) understand the child better and help them without blame get the right services so their child can succeed. They produce amazing results. They form bonds with youth and families that last far beyond graduation. They are a life saving tool for many. I could not have the success we have in the shelter without their work.
Feedback from families has always been positive. They have "moved mountains" to help children with emotional and behaviors isses get the right servcies and the right time.
I am an education law professor and have been on Student Advocacy's board since 2007. I am proud to be part of an organization that provides such practical, effective help to enable students to succeed in school. I think one of the best testaments to Student Advocacy is the fact that so many of their referrals come directly from school districts with whom they have worked in the past.
Student Advocacy is dedicated to obtaining for every child the education that best suits his or her skills and needs and to which they are entitled by law. By informing their parents or guardians (mothers are usually the ones who contact us) of the resources available to them, this can be accomplished. Of course, educating young women (and men) will create a new generation of productive and capable citizens. Currently, the agency is serving 667 children being served in 41 school districts.
There is nothing more debilitating for a Mother than to have her child having serious problems in school. Whether the problems stem from behavioral issues, learning disabilities and/or health concerns, Student Advocacy works with the parent and the school to find a workable solution to get the student on a learning tract. The parent learns to advocate for her child with the teachers and school administrators as well as to effectively challenge her child. Student Advocacy has an excellent staff that works with the school and parent until a path to a successful school experience is developed. While not every child becomes an award winner for his or her progress, each child has a team for the student to rely on for help. What a relief this provides the whole family: the Mother especially and Father are freed from the worry and fear of being alone in dealing with a failing and/or ill child. School becomes part of the solution instead of the other half of the problem.
We have often collaborated with Student Advocacy in seeking to remove or overcome educational barriers in order to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for children and youth experiencing homelessness. Student advocacy has also been helpful in providing technical assistance with educational law regarding the the rights of homeless students.
Student Advocacy, Inc. is probably the only organization of its kind within our 9 county region. So many families in the NY State area find themselves feeling marginalized and even victimized when their child needs the protection of educational advocacy. Not only do they serve the families with great vigor, but Student Advocacy offers families whose children may face significant challenges empathy, support, comfort, and respect that often is missing from their interaction with the general public and of course, the school systems. Student Advocacy, Inc. does not just protect a child's educational rights. Student Advocacy, Inc. makes certain the child and their family feels engaged in and supported in our society. Student Advocacy, Inc. is highly valued by the region, and is an ideal model for replication in other counties/regions.