Partnership for Children’s Rights (PFCR) provides free legal services to disabled children from low-income families throughout New York City in the areas of special education and children’s SSI disability benefits.
In our special education practice, PFCR represents students with disabilities and their families in seeking appropriate school placements, services, and supports from the New York City Department of Education. Parents come to PFCR because they see that their child’s special education needs are not being met and they need the support of our experienced staff to place the child on a path to progress and success. Quite often, parents call PFCR after advocating on their own with the New York City Department of Education for months or years, to no avail.
PFCR provides families with special education advocacy in the broadest sense. We help parents to evaluate their child’s needs and fully understand the nature of the child’s disability. We assess whether and how the child’s educational rights have been violated and work with parents, evaluators, and educational officials to determine what remedies are appropriate to redress past wrongs and to meet the child’s unique needs going forward. We teach parents how to advocate for their rights and how to engage in effective communication and negotiation with educational officials. When informal advocacy does not produce the necessary results, we pursue all available legal avenues to obtain the relief the child needs, both through administrative hearings and appeals and in federal court. Throughout this process, we strive to serve as a much-needed source of moral support for our clients – a staff of professionals who are committed to standing by parents’ side in their fight for their child’s rights.
PFCR’s SSI practice serves as an important corollary to the special education practice. Under federal law, children with disabilities living in low-income households with very limited resources are entitled to receive Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, benefits if their disability is demonstrated to be at the requisite level of severity. PFCR provides representation to children who have wrongly been denied these benefits. Through advocacy at the administrative and federal court level, we assist disabled children in obtaining the SSI benefits to which they are entitled, including both monthly financial benefits to meet the child’s food, clothing, and shelter needs and retroactive benefits placed in a dedicated account to meet the child’s special medical or other disability-related needs. Our SSI practice has helped many disabled children obtain the financial support they need to live in a safe, healthy environment and to receive the supportive care they require.