The shortage existed long before COVID. But advocates say an influx of federal funding could change it. CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas reports.
- 100 organizations signed a letter to the mayor demanding more preschool seats for special needs students, a shortage that existed long before COVID.
- And now, advocates say an infusion of federal funding could change that. CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas has the story.
AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: While most families are grappling with in-person or remote learning, Muhammad Murshed has neither option for his son. The four-year-old, who's also named Muhammad, has developmental delays and is among hundreds of students across the city waiting for a spot in a special education preschool class.
MUHAMMAD MURSHED: His activity, everything is, day by day, getting a little less. Let's say he was speaking before like two or three words, but now he doesn't say anything.
AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: Monday, a coalition of 100 organizations, including Advocates for Children, sent a letter to Mayor de Blasio demanding federal funding be used to provide every special needs child access to a preschool class.
BETTY BAEZ MILO: These are families of children who have a legal right to attend a preschool special class program.
AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: This comes just weeks after Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter announced the expansion of the 3-K program for traditional students by more than 16,000 seats.
MARCIA KRAMER: What promise can you make to parents waiting for early interventions?
AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: CBS2 political reporter Marcia Kramer asked the mayor about the plan for special education students.
BILL DE BLASIO: We are, right now, working on this issue because we do not ever want to leave kids with special needs behind.
AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: But left behind is how so many families feel.
MUHAMMAD MURSHED: No services for him since like two years, he doesn't get. That's why, day by day, it's really hard for us to take care of him.
AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: And the Murshed family doesn't know when help will come.
Advocates explain that the greatest need is in the Bronx, especially in lower-income communities. And that's why they say this isn't just about access, it's also about equity.
Aundrea Cline-Thomas, CBS2 News.