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Many Migrant Children Evicted from Shelters Also Left School

Almost 700 children who were evicted from New York City’s migrant shelters on Jan. 9 are no longer enrolled in the city’s school system. Many educators are worried about how this will impact those students’ futures.

people walk by a field with luaggage
Migrants who arrived from Eagle Pass, Texas, walk to Floyd Bennett Field in the Brooklyn borough of New York on Feb. 3, 2024.
(Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)
Nearly one in five children evicted from New York City migrant shelters are no longer enrolled in the same schools, potentially disrupting the education of over a thousand students, according to data shared with the City Council.

The findings, which run through early last month, offer an early look at the educational impact of Mayor Eric Adams’ 60-day shelter limits. He says the policy is necessary to make space in the city’s strained shelter system and encourage migrants to move out on their own.

“The data provided by the Administration paints a disheartening picture: over a thousand children have had their education disrupted because of the cruel 60-day eviction rule for families in shelter,” Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala (D-Manhattan/Bronx), chair of the Committee on General Welfare, in said a statement.

“I hope that this data compels city leaders to make a swift change to the needless 60-day eviction policy,” she added.

Shelter limits for families with children went into effect on Jan. 9. Since then, about one in three children no longer enrolled in their programs moved to another local public school, the data show. Almost all of the rest — close to 700 students — were no longer students in the city’s school system, a figure that has likely only grown since the data stalled a month and a half ago.

Teachers and counselors warned of the consequences for children, many of whom faced trauma in their former countries or on their way to New York and need stability at school. Principals and parent volunteers who recruited bilingual staff or partnered with local nonprofits worried those services either may not be available at migrant students’ next schools or will take time to replicate.

“This policy not only undermines our own investments in services,” stated Councilwoman Alexa Avilés (D-Brooklyn), chair of the Committee on Immigration, “but it also pulls the rug out from underneath families who are finally beginning to stabilize.”

The mayor’s office and the Education Department did not return a request for comment.

A similar share of migrant families with children still in city shelters were placed in a different borough from their original housing, data show. About 14 percent were still in the same shelters where they received the eviction notices, likely including at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, where some families are being permitted to remain.

The reapplication process and placement is taking under a day, administration officials have told the Council.

Councilwoman Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan) previously told the Daily News that her office has needed to intervene dozens of times when Upper West Side families were moved to Queens or Brooklyn, despite being enrolled in neighborhood schools.

“Moving these families is wrong on so many levels,” she said. “Families are not given MetroCards. The school buses, with all due respect, just don’t show up.”

Multiple studies have found that students in temporary housing who switch schools — especially those who are not native English speakers — are more likely to be chronically absent and take longer to learn the language.

“We are still learning as we go,” Emma Vadehra, chief operating officer of the city Education Department, said at a March press conference. “We are carefully working with our partner agencies to ensure we understand the impact.”

Schools are providing families with letters explaining their right to stay in the same schools even if they move shelters, along with transportation to make that possible, Vadehra explained.

“Our priority at New York City public schools is to make sure families and kids know they can stay at their school,” she said. “That can be their stable place. And that we are giving them everything we need to ensure they understand that’s available to them, if that’s what they want.”

The findings come as a shelter program that connects migrant families and other homeless children to education services is at risk of losing funds and could hamper their ability to get to school.

More than 189,200 people have come to New York City seeking asylum since the the influx began, including a slight uptick of 1,500 migrants in the first week of April, according to the Adams administration. City officials have repeatedly called on the federal government for more resources.

©2024 New York Daily News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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