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AMPHS CORONAVIRUS UPDATES AS OF 3/28/2020

Click on these links to see this in: English, Spanish (español), Chinese (中文), Arabic (عربى)

While we are all staying at home to ensure safe social distancing, we want to let you know that AMPHS is here to help! On Wednesday, March 25, we celebrated our tenth birthday since AMPHS was founded in 2010, at a time when we are undergoing one of our greatest public health crises and when we know how important health justice means to our communities. If you need to speak with someone to receive social assistance services during this difficult time, our phone lines are open Tuesday to Saturday, 10 AM – 6 PM at (212) 256-9036

We are aware that this week has been an eventful one for many parents in our community as remote learning began Monday, March 23rd, 2020. We understand that this new system continues to cause confusion and concerns for many families. Today’s newsletter is meant to share updates from the Department of Education and to help alleviate some of the community’s concerns regarding this shift to remote learning. As of today, there were 52,318 cases in NYS and 29,766 in NYC.

Where and when can I or my child get free meals?

The New York City Department of Education is committed to making three free meals available daily for all NYC children. Beginning March 23, meals will be distributed at more than 400 sites across the city. Three meals a day will be available to all NYC children, Monday through Friday 7:30 am to 1:30 pm at locations across the city.  Parents can find the closest location serving meals here. Families may also text the word “Food” or “Comida” to  877-877 to find the closest meal hub.

What do I need to pick up free meals?

Meal distribution hubs will serve anybody, including adults, and have been directed to not turn anyone away. Parents and guardians may pick up meals for themselves and their children without the child present, and should simply tell the staff at the location how many people they need to feed‎. No registration, ID, or documentation required. All three meals may (and should) be picked up at the same time to minimize contact. No dining space is available, so meals must be eaten off premises. .

What platform is being used for remote learning?

Each school has its own online platform, with many schools using Google Classroom. Educators have contacted school communities to let you know what remote learning tool your child’s school will be using. You can find instructions on DOE student accounts and getting started in Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams at schools.nyc.gov/learnathome. If you are having additional problems connecting, contact your school directly via email. Find a School tool can help you find contact information for your school as well, if you do not already have it: schools.nyc.gov/find-a-school.

What devices can be used for remote learning?

Families can access remote learning from any internet-enabled electronic device including laptops, Chromebooks, iPads, X-box, Playstation, cellphones, etc.  If families need an electronic device, Parent Coordinators can help them fill out the request form.

My child doesn’t have a device at home for remote learning, how can we get access to one?

The Department of Education (DOE) will help you get a device with internet connection. If your child needs a device to participate in remote learning, and you have not yet filled out a device request form, please visit coronavirus.schools.nyc/RemoteLearningDevices

Throughout last week, the many schools distributed the devices they previously had to students and the DOE has secured additional devices that it will be distributing to students under tiered “priority” categories over the next several weeks. Apple has donated 300,000 iPads to the DOE. The first 25,000 of this 300,000 began delivery Monday, March 23rd, to students in temporary housing. As they receive the next shipment of 50,000 next week, the DOE will continue to ensure that the 100,000  students in temporary housing have priority for delivery. They anticipate another delivery of 50,000 each week until they have given out all 300,000. Devices are being given on a rolling basis, so families that have filled out the survey should expect to be contacted soon. 

Families who have trouble connecting should reach out to their schools directly. Each school will be troubleshooting its own remote technology issues with support from DOE. The DOE is working to create more supports for parents in this transition. Educators have received both guidance and training to support them during this switch to remote learning. 

How many devices should each family receive? 

Each school-aged child should receive their own device. If your school has only provided one device for multiple children, you should fill out the survey to request additional devices. 

Will digital assistance be provided to families in other languages? 

The DOE is working directly with Google to create tutorials and guidance in all the top 9 languages, and will also work to get more languages available. The call line 718-935-5100, option 5, should also have translation services available. 

What will happen if my child is in an Individualized Education Program (IEP)?

If your student is recommended for integrated co-teaching, special class, or special education teacher support services, your school will make every effort to arrange for them to continue to receive instruction from the same special education teachers and classroom paraprofessionals that usually teach them. Someone from your school will contact you to discuss how instruction will be delivered. Your child’s IEP meetings will still take place; IEP meetings will be conducted by phone. To make a referral for initial evaluation or reevaluation, you can email your principal or specialeducation@schools.nyc.gov, or call 311. For more on remote learning for students with IEPs, please visit schools.nyc.gov/learnathome.

How can families contact schools? 

 You may contact schools via phone, however, they have suggested the best way to reach out is by email. Emails for principals, parent coordinators, and teachers are available on the school websites that are publicly available. Please contact Deputy Director for Community Affairs, Michele Martinez Gugerli, (MMartinezgugerli@schools.nyc.gov) if a school does not have email contacts on their website. The DOE will continue to work on developing ways for families to connect with their schools.

How can newly arrived immigrants enroll in school?

Family Welcome Center (FWC) staff are available remotely to assist with enrollment and placement of new admissions, questions around admissions, information about offers, and waitlists. To receive direct support e-mail your questions to (and/or call 311):

How can families who don’t have Wi-Fi access remote learning for their children?

If the youth receives a loaned DOE device, the device will be WiFi enabled. However, for areas where these services are not yet provided and/or for other issues regarding WiFi, the DOE says they will continue to work with providers and find solutions.

  • Charter Communications is giving households with K-12 and college students free Spectrum Wi-Fi for 60 days, along with free installation of the service for low-income families. Those who qualify as low-income will still be eligible for high-speed broadband. Charter will also expand Wi-Fi hotspots to the public in areas covered in Charter’s available regions. To enroll your household in this Spectrum offer, call 1-844-488-8395. Customers who sign up for the free service will automatically be billed for using internet access after the first 60 days unless they call Spectrum to cancel the service. Availability of services also depends on your address.
  • Low-income families who live in a Comcast (Xifinity) service area can sign up for 60 days of free Internet Essentials service as a new customer. The company is also increasing internet speeds for the Internet Essentials service from 15/2 Mbps to 25/3 Mbps for all new and existing customers indefinitely. To enroll your household in this offer, you can do so online by visiting  www.internetessentials.com, or you may call 1-855-846-8376 for English and 1-855-765-6995 for Spanish.
  • AT&T will be offering free service at their public wifi hotspots for 60 days.
  • Verizon, AT&T, Spectrum, and Comcast will not charge late fees or disconnect accounts for an indefinite amount of time.
  • T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, and Comcast are all lifting their unlimited data caps for cell phone subscribers for at least 60 days.

What will happen if students don’t have their technology in time?  

The DOE knows there will be a lag time as people get access to technology and Wi-Fi and/or adjust to online learning. Students will not be penalized for any gaps during this time of transition. Prior to receiving their technology, schools should be providing packets and printed materials, which are also available at Regional Enrichment Center. Schools may also be providing delivery if students are unable to pick up materials. If you face any issues, reach out to your school’s Principal or Superintendent. 

Are parents required to print assignments for their children?

No, teachers  cannot require students and their parents to use printed materials unless they are provided. If your child’s teacher is requiring printing, please inform your Principal or Superintendent.

Are schools taking attendance? Is there a uniform policy? 

A uniform set of guidance has been sent around to schools. Parents should not be asked to confirm attendance for their children. Please reach out to your Principal or Superintendent if you have been told this was a requirement.

What are Regional Enrichment Centers? 

Starting March 23rd, the Department of Education opened around 93 “Regional Enrichment Centers” and child care sites across the city for all city children of healthcare, emergency services, transit workers, grocery and pharmacy workers regardless of whether they go to public or private school. Children of other “essential” service jobs may be allowed at these sites as space permits. They are open 7:30AM to 6:00PM. Each room serves a minimum of 12 children and children will have the opportunity to participate in remote learning as well as art, music, and physical education. Parents should fill out this survey to find out if they qualify for childcare at this time.

What is the eligibility for Regional Enrichment Centers? 

While DOE has not finalized the list of eligible youth, currently centers will serve the children of first responders and critical staff, including Emergency Medical Services, healthcare workers, transit workers, and other critical workers. It also recently expanded to include grocery and pharmacy workers (please note that criteria is not as expansive as statewide executive order definitions). 

Additional Resources

Supplemental Learn-at-Home Resources for your Children

Free printable K-8 Reading and Math activity packs (available in English and Spanish)

Chinese Learning Activities

Parents’ Guide to Google Classroom

The following are locations offering free meals to families within District 15 and District 20. All locations, dates, times and menus are subject to change.

District 15:

District 20:

AMPHS CORONAVIRUS UPDATES AS OF 3/20/2020

Click on these links to see this in: English, Spanish (español), Chinese (中文)

We hope everyone is staying safe. AMPHS began to transition to remote services this week. Our phone lines will still be open Tuesday to Saturday, 10 AM – 6 PM at (212) 256-9036 and our counseling services will transition to a videoconference service. During these difficult times, it has been gratifying to see the community come together, especially mutual aid groups of concerned neighbors. We are happy to have been able to provide supplies to help support the volunteers at United Senior Citizens Center deliver meals to seniors and to collaborate with community activists to organize a fundraising campaign to support struggling small businesses.

There have been many changes over the past weeks regarding guidance for the coronavirus crisis. Please see the latest updates, based on changes from New York State Governor’s Office, NYC Mayor’s Office, and NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene as of March 20, 2020. At this time, there are 6,211 cases in NYC and 10,356 in NYS. Our staff are working hard to ensure that everyone has the up-to-date information in your language. If you are interested in volunteering to translate material, please email us at personnel.resources@amphsonline.org. All updates are also available online on our blog.

DAILY LIVING 

What is the current public health guidance?

There is widespread community transmission of COVID-19 happening in New York City. Community transmission means that COVID-19 is circulating in NYC and that we should act as if we are all exposed.  If you are sick, you must stay home. All New Yorkers must monitor their health carefully. Only seek health care if you are very sick. The city needs to make sure people with severe illness will be able to stay in a hospital or intensive care unit if they need to. Even if you are not sick, stay home as much as you can: work from home, study from home and avoid all unnecessary interactions and events.

What is the current requirement for businesses’ workforce?

As of 8PM on Sunday, March 22, 2020, 100% of New York’s workforce will have to stay home; only essential business will remain open. Essential businesses include: grocers and restaurants, health care providers, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, banks, hardware stores, laundromats and cleaners, child-care providers, auto repair shops, utility companies, warehouses and distributors, delivery services, plumbers and other skilled contractors, animal-care providers, transportation providers, construction companies and many kinds of manufacturers. Starting on Saturday, March 21, 2020, all barber shops, hair and nail salons, tattoo or piercing parlors and other personal care businesses in New York State must close. There will be civil fines and mandatory closures for businesses not in compliance. 

What are the guidelines for smaller gatherings, such as if I have a gathering at home with friends or family?

Governor Cuomo’s policy bans all nonessential gatherings of any size for any reason and asks every New Yorker to stay home. 

What is a “shelter in place” and how likely is it that it will happen in NYC?

Mayor De Blasio has been advocating for a “shelter-in-place” order for New York City; however, this is not in effect right now until the Governor approves it. This is a directive to maximize people being at home and to reduce all non-essential activity. It does not involve shutting down the city and closing bridges or borders. A similar shelter-in-place is already happening in San Francisco.

Is mass transportation being affected by the coronavirus?

The MTA is no longer scheduling shared rides for Access-A-Ride services effective Thursday, March 19 in order to protect riders. Riders can travel with a personal care attendant or approved guest. Mass transit will continue to function regularly.Most buses in New York City will be free starting on Monday, March 23, as the M.T.A. tries to keep service going while protecting workers and riders. They will require rear bus entry.

Are there changes to important deadlines?

  • As of Friday, March 20th, 2020, Tax Day will be moved to July 15, giving Americans an additional three months to file their income tax returns.
  • The deadline to submit pre-K applications has been extended to March 29th. Families can apply both online, 24 hours a day, via MySchools or via phone at 718-935-2009 between the hours of 8:00 AM-6:00 PM Monday-Friday. Additional questions about applications should be directed to the above phone line or to ESEnrollment@schools.nyc.gov.
  • As of March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has suspended routine in-person services until at least April 1st, but will continue its other daily operations. However, USCIS will provide emergency services for limited situations. To schedule an emergency appointment contact the USCIS Contact Center.
  • New York State will temporarily suspend collection of student, medical, and other state-referred debt for at least 30 days, through April 15. 
  • The Governor has ordered banks and financial institutions to waive mortgage payments for three months for homeowners facing virus-related financial hardship if they are not working or only working part-time.
  • There are no more in-person interviews for food stamps or public assistance. All of that has been converted to online and phone interviews and processing.
  • Enrollment for New York State of Health Affordable Care Act has opened again, through April 15th. You can sign up through the online insurance exchange or by contacting navigator programs, like the Community Service Society of New York.
  • There is a 90-day moratorium on residential and commercial evictions.

I do not have access to Wi-Fi at home, are there any providers offering free access to internet services?

  • Charter Communications is giving households with K-12 and college students free Spectrum Wi-Fi for 60 days, along with free installation of the service for low-income families. Those who qualify as low-income will still be eligible for high-speed broadband. Charter will also expand Wi-Fi hotspots to the public in areas covered in Charter’s available regions. To enroll your household in this Spectrum offer, call 1-844-488-8395. Customers who sign up for the free service will automatically be billed for using internet access after the first 60 days unless they call Spectrum to cancel the service. Availability of services also depends on your address.
  • Low-income families who live in a Comcast (Xifinity) service area can sign up for 60 days of free Internet Essentials service as a new customer. The company is also increasing internet speeds for the Internet Essentials service from 15/2 Mbps to 25/3 Mbps for all new and existing customers indefinitely. To enroll your household in this offer, you can do so online by visiting  www.internetessentials.com, or you may call 1-855-846-8376 for English and 1-855-765-6995 for Spanish.
  • AT&T will be offering free service at their public wifi hotspots for 60 days.
  • Verizon, AT&T, Spectrum, and Comcast will not charge late fees or disconnect accounts for an indefinite amount of time.
  • T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, and Comcast are all lifting their unlimited data caps for cell phone subscribers for at least 60 days.

What steps are being taken to ensure New Yorkers who use section 8 rental assistance vouchers have undisrupted access to housing?

  • The City will automatically extend any Section 8 voucher set to expire. Voucher holders do not need to reach out to the City for an extension. 
  • All subsidy terminations that are in process are suspended until further notice.
  • Any HPD Section 8 voucher holders facing rent hardships due to decreases in income should contact HPD.  
  •  NYCHA encourages households experiencing a loss of income to visit the NYCHA Self-Service Portal. 

DISEASE TREATMENT AND PREVENTION

Where can I get tested for COVID-19?

There is now expanded testing capacity across 10 acute care hospitals, 7 Gotham Health community-based health centers and 4 drive-thru sites. Priority will be given to people over 50 years old who are experiencing symptoms and have underlying health issues (chronic lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, cancer or a weakened immune system). If you do not fall into this category, you should continue to practice social distancing and call a healthcare provider if symptoms do not subside in 3-4 days; they can make an appointment to get you tested if needed. Here is the current list of testing facilities:

  • Health+Hospitals: Bellevue, Elmhurst, Harlem, Metropolitan, Kings County, Lincoln, Woodhull, Queens, Coney Island (drive-thru), and Jacobi (drive-thru) – Assessment & Testing Centers, BY APPOINTMENT ONLY: (844) 692-4692. 
  • Brooklyn Hospital (121 DeKalb Avenue) – Outdoor Tent at Emergency Room Entrance for Pre-Screening (no appointment needed)
  • South Beach Behavioral Health Center Parking Lot (Seaview Avenue) – Drive Thru, BY APPOINTMENT ONLY: (888) 364-3065. 

What does a test involve?

Testing is 15 minutes and requires a nasal or throat swab. Results are ready in 2-3 days.

Can COVID-19 be transmitted through food?

According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), transmission through food is unlikely and there is no evidence of this occurring with COVID-19 to date; however, investigations into how the virus spreads are continuing.  It is still important that everyone continues to practice good hygiene when preparing and handling food, which helps avoid cross contamination between raw or undercooked foods and cooked or ready to eat foods. As an added precaution, if you have suspected symptoms of respiratory illness you should avoid preparing food for other people.

Should I be wearing a facemask and use gloves to prevent COVID-19?

Face masks are worn for a variety of reasons, such as occupation or allergies. For preventing COVID-19, wearing a face mask is not enough to protect you from the virus. Many times face masks are worn incorrectly, or for too long and people usually end up touching their face more often than those who do not wear face masks. A face mask is as effective as covering your mouth with your elbow bend. Similarly, gloves are not effective in preventing COVID-19 because you don’t contract the virus through your hands; the disease is contracted when you touch your eyes, nose or mouth after touching a contaminated surface. Therefore, if you touch your face while wearing gloves, there is still a chance that you will become infected.

If it is not an airborne disease, why is the coronavirus so contagious?

According to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the transmission and containment of the coronavirus is modulated by our behavior. The disease is not airborne. It is spread by droplets that are released when coughing or sneezing. Exposure to COVID-19 also occurs when droplets land on a surface and another person touches that contaminated surface and touches their eyes, nose or mouth. Prevention of COVID-19 relies heavily on frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer, and also avoiding touching one’s face. Further, people should stay home as much as possible even if they are healthy. If individuals do go outside, they should maintain a physical distance of at least 6 feet from others. Transmission of COVID-19 will be lower if we follow the guidelines provided by the Department of Health. 

Resources

1. List of employment resources, food assistance, medical assistance, financial  assistance 

2. Supports for Victim Services

3. COVID-19 Resource Guide

4. FoodBank NYC Map of Food Pantries

5. Hungerfree America Neighborhood Guide to Food Assistance

6. NYC DOHMH Coronavirus Updates

Congrats to our Adult Literacy Class of 2019!

Last month, the Academy of Medical & Public Health Services graduated our second class of Adult Literacy ESOL students. This year, AMPHS received over 200 registrations and celebrated achievements of 131 of those students on Graduation Day. Students came from 21 different countries across Central America, Latin American, East Asia, South Asia, Central Asia and Africa, and participated in classes at the Beginner, High Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced levels over a period of two semesters. Parents who otherwise would have needed to choose between going to class and taking care of their children were offered free babysitting services during class time. Students also received support through AMPHS’ health, mental health and social services programs throughout the term.

Over the course of the term, students not only developed their written and verbal communication skills, and connected with other English language learners in the community. They participated in workshops about immigrant rights, mental health, personal financial management, and college education opportunities. Classes went on field trips to plays Target Margin Theatre, Brooklyn Public Library, New York Aquarium, Governor’s Island, Sunset Park, NY Lantern Festival and participated in Iftar celebrations with the Arab-American Association of NY and Comptroller Scott Stringer.

In celebration of the holidays in November, students across AMPHS’ class participated in a Thanksgiving Day feast, designed to educate students about the United States Thanksgiving tradition. We transformed cafeteria tables with a long dinner table holiday setting and brought drinks, turkey, and Thanksgiving Day staples. Students brought traditional home cooking to contribute to a multicultural Thanksgiving potluck feast. Teachers discussed the history and tradition of Thanksgiving and reviewed dining and dining etiquette terminology, while students across the different classes networked through food, drink and “speed-dating” activities. Students concluded the evening with a white elephant gift exchange. According to one student, “The event gave me a family feeling and made me feel the holiday spirit. I had never had a feast like that before.”

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They also attended AMPHS’ Holiday Party and had the chance to share their experiences with AMPHS’ programs over food and drink.

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On May 31st, Advanced class student Febe Xu was honored for a essay, “As a Beginner in New York” at the DYCD Student Achievement Ceremony, with a reading by Carlos Montivero, along with Mexican Folk Dance “Ballet Folklorico” from student Fatima Osorio.

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In May, students participated in a rally to advocate for additional funding to support ESOL classes, with an impassioned speech by Intermediate student Mauricio Paz Viola.

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On June 8th, we held our First Annual Sunset Park Career Day featured a combination of workshops, career panels, and tabling throughout the day, with an aim to provide community members with information about workforce development programs, workers’ rights, and job opportunities. The event was open to all members of the community, attracting over 120 attendees including AMPHS’ Adult Literacy students. Career Day connected students to work and training opportunities and showed students that if they committed themselves to achieving their goals, and with a little bit of help along the way, anything is possible — achieving the American Dream is possible.

Workshops were facilitated through the Center for Family Life and CUNY BMCC. Twenty agencies participated to offer information about their job and training opportunities. Panelists shared stories about their struggles entering their professions, including going to school, finding a job as an undocumented person, and dealing with discrimination, and provided recommendations on educational pathways to success.

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To our students, our Adult Literacy classes mean much more than a class or a program. It is a community and an opportunity for education.

“I never went to school when I was young. My parents didn’t allow me to,” said Ms. Li, a student in our Beginner class, who at 80 years old had been enrolled in our program with her daughter since last year. “My daughter only completed elementary school; she was the primary caretaker for her younger siblings and began working as a teenager to earn money for the family. Her brothers had a chance to go to school, but she never did. Now she is my primary caretaker, and I know I owe so much to her. This, for us, is the opportunity of a lifetime.”

The commitment and motivation of our students are unmatched. They are at once the breadwinners, parents and caretakers of the family. While struggling to learn to thrive in a new country, they are also attending classes 6+ hours a week to build upon their English — making a commitment to excel and build a better life for their children. We cannot be more proud of our graduating class and happier to have played a role in their journey. Take a look at our graduation booklet to meet them all!

The success of the classes would not have been possible without the hard work of our 2018-2019 Adult Literacy team: Administrative Support team Mon Yuck Yu, Philip Lindsay, Aimee Kim, Jialiang Huang;  ESOL Instructors Weam Al-Rubaye, Somia El-Rowmeim, Tanya Chambers, and Bonnie Blaha; the Literacy Partners team Adriane Lee, Mary Sillman, Jessica Kan, Caitlin Mroz, Fatema Kabir, Megan McDonald, and Sarah Jaffe. Thank you for all your hard work!

Now Accepting Applications! 

Summer Classes: New and returning students can opt to enroll in a 5-week computer class and conversation table this summer between July 10th and August 10th to continue to build their English skills. Registration is on a rolling basis.

Fall Classes: Registration for our Fall Cycle is now open. To register, please call our offices at (212) 256-9036 to make an appointment for registration and testing.

 

Meet Margarita: Immigrant, Mother, and Growing Advocate 

Margarita, 48, lives with her husband and two sons in Bay Ridge. She immigrated to the US from Mexico twenty years ago for financial reasons, and has lived in Brooklyn ever since. When Margarita went searching for a new job in Sunset Park, the Center for Family Life recommended that she focus on improving her English, and referred her to AMPHS. “I said to myself, if that’s the path, then let’s go, let’s get started.”

A few weeks later, she was enrolled in AMPHS’ Advanced English Class with Bonnie Blaha, one of AMPHS ESL instructors. Margarita quickly became one of the most outspoken students in class and often encouraged her classmates to be more active in the classroom. “Bonnie has lots of patience with us. She is wonderful.”

AMPHS English classes provide students with the language skills they need to survive and connect community members to each other through a common goal. They also provide access to holistic health and wellness services, further empowering community members to understand and assert their rights.

Once Margarita also learned about AMPHS health services, she immediately took advantage of AMPHS Saturday health screening services and signed up for weekly counseling with AMPHS’ licensed mental health therapist, Matilde Pedrero. “There are a lot of people here that don’t speak English… there are people who don’t ever receive check-ups. Here they have a chance to see a doctor, to learn English, to understand their situation.”

Though Margarita has graduated from AMPHS Adult Literacy program, she continues to play an important role in the AMPHS community as a volunteer, encouraging others to learn English and spreading the word about the organization. “I bring people in, little by little- my friend, my neighbor.” Margarita often brings her sons Jonathan and Jordan into the office as well. “The kids are happy here, they love to come here. They say, mom, let’s go to the school.”

AMPHS services, she points out, can make an enormous difference in someone’s life: “I am especially worried for my Guatemalan friends, the ones working dangerous jobs, the delivery bikers. Just the other day, a 16-year-old boy was killed delivering food. He probably barely knew how to read the ‘No-turn’ sign… or maybe if he had known some English he wouldn’t have to be dodging cars, maybe he could be waiting tables somewhere instead.”

 

Culture Day: Celebrating Diversity

On June 25th, AMPHS and the Arab American Association of New York, held a celebration of the diverse cultures that make up Brooklyn. Featuring the traditional food, garb, song, and performances from our very own ESOL students, we spoke to importance of diversity, understanding, and community solidarity. It was a beautiful unification of the different ethnic groups and generations among hundreds of students and their family members, to show that it is possible to erase differences and barriers to develop one voice, one community.

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AMPHS Graduates its Inaugural Adult Literacy Class!

In March, with funding from NYC Department of Community and Youth Development, AMPHS began offering six English classes for over 150 immigrant community members from Beginner to Advanced levels. Our adult literacy program furthers our mission to serve and empower NYC’s immigrant community, complementing our health and wellness programs by providing our students with the English skills for self-advocacy in both healthcare settings and in their everyday lives. We also offer babysitting services for parents who otherwise would not be able to take the classes.

Students improved upon their written and verbal communication skills, and connected with other English language learners in the community. They also took part in field trips around NYC (visiting the Brooklyn Public Library, Statue of Liberty, Museum of the City of New York, and even local restaurants!), participated in our first Culture Day, and celebrated all their hard work and progress at the end of June at the AMPHS Graduation Ceremony.  Students further engaged in conversation groups to practice their English with peers and work readiness workshops to help students advance in their career search beyond the classes. Take a look here for a list of graduating students!

The success of the classes would not have been possible without the hard work of our Spring 2018 Adult Literacy team: a big thanks to Somia El-Rowmeim, Adult Education Specialist and Adviser, and ESOL Instructors Jarod Yong, Bonnie Blaha, Weam Al-Rubaye, Patrizia Barroero and Ekhlas Sedhom. 

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Registration for our Fall Cycle is now open. To register, please call our offices at (212) 256-9036 to make an appointment for registration and testing! Registration ends August 31st, 2018.

Making Your #Right2Health a Reality

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AMPHS wants to hear from you this holiday season!

Between now and the end of the year, take a few minutes to write about the health and wellness needs of your community. What barriers are you or someone you know currently experiencing in the pursuit of a healthy life? Are you having any trouble accessing quality care? What kinds of health and wellness services do you feel would improve the lives of the people in your community, your family?

Share your story or idea by emailing us at nicholas.maistros@amphsonline.org or by tagging us and posting your message to Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #Right2Health. Please, protect the privacy of your subjects by removing any identifying information.

At the beginning of the new year, we will aggregate your messages and use them to tailor our services, making your #Right2Health a reality!

AMPHS’ Action Plan: Bridging the Healthcare Gap in Uncertain Times

Academy of Medical and Public Health Services

In anticipation of the incoming administration, we at AMPHS are maximizing our efforts to protect the rights of our immigrant community members and to make health and wellness accessible to those in need.

This is our plan:

  1. Provide free health and disease prevention services to the New Yorkers who might lose health insurance or be excluded from the healthcare system in 2017.
  2. Educate immigrant communities about their immigration and healthcare rights through Know Your Rights Workshops and street canvasses.
  3. Coordinate care plans for individuals who are left out of the healthcare system and connect them to resources to help them navigate their options.
  4. Assemble pro bono legal service providers to assist immigrants in conducting immigration screenings, securing health insurance, and being represented in immigration proceedings.
  5. Conduct active street outreach to identify community needs and sentiments.
  6. Convene community leaders and members to discuss action roadmaps to protect our community.
  7. Support New York City’s efforts to fight back against threats and coercion against immigrant communities.

No matter the political situation, AMPHS remains devoted to advancing quality healthcare to those in need, regardless of income, insurance, or immigration status. We are here for our immigrant communities.

We Are Here for Our Immigrant Communities

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As with so many other grassroots organizations devoted to human rights and social justice, we at AMPHS are trying to anticipate the consequences of this presidential election. These are uncertain and frightening times—especially for the community members we serve, who are particularly vulnerable to a number of proposed policy changes, both in terms of their healthcare and their immigration status.

In recent years, we’ve seen a great deal of progress on these fronts. Thanks to the tireless efforts of activists across the country and the bravery of those who risked deportation by coming out of the shadows, President Obama unveiled his executive actions on immigration, providing deportation relief and authorization to work for nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants. With the passage of President Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act (ACA), barriers to healthcare were beginning to fall, and many who could not previously afford insurance were finally able to realize what we at AMPHS have always deemed a human right—access to quality care.

These successes were not easily won, and their opponents were quick to dismantle them. In June, the Supreme Court, locked in a 4-4 ruling, effectively deemed President Obama’s immigration action unconstitutional. And earlier this month, we saw the election of not only a president but a Congress (and with them the likely appointment of numerous right-leaning federal judges) poised to repeal the ACA and staunch the rights and security of undocumented immigrants and their families.

With these developments, how can we help but feel defeated? All of this progress just to be thrown swiftly back to zero?

But we have to remind ourselves that the political landscape, as turbulent as it seems, is not all that different now than it was when we began our fight. In fact, in many ways, it was worse. We didn’t begin by defending rights already afforded to the marginalized; we began without rights to defend. We began without visibility, without a network of support. We began without a movement.

From the start, AMPHS’ mission was to empower “individuals and communities to create their own local and culturally-sensitive health and wellness paradigms.” And it still is. We were founded on the principles of advancing healthcare to those in need, regardless of income, insurance, or immigration status. It’s what we’ve always done, and we’re learning how to do it better and better every day.

Yes, we may be disappointed, and we may be scared, but this is not a reset. We are not starting from scratch, because from the beginning, we’ve taken nothing for granted. All these years, and what do we have to show for them? We have a stalwart—and a visible—network of support that persists not because of the ACA, not because of DACA or DAPA, not because of any elected official. We have it because we built it ourselves. So we persist, so we continue to build on what we have, and we already have so much. We have each other.

We at AMPHS are closely monitoring these new developments, and we promise to keep our communities informed of their rights and resources. Please go to this link for a list of key updates on AMPHS’ programs and the president-elect’s policies, and do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns. Call us at (212) 256-9036 or email info@amphsonline.org.

We are here for you.


Hewett Chiu

President & CEO, AMPHS

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: Healthcare, Immigration, and a Turbulent Political Environment

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Community members rally in Brooklyn, NY, to protect the rights of immigrants.

There are many uncertainties regarding President-elect Trump’s shifting policies on healthcare and immigration. AMPHS is closely monitoring these new developments and will provide updates as we receive them.

Here’s what we know so far.

  • AMPHS will continue to conduct health screenings in Sunset Park. Please contact us at (212) 256-9036 or email at info@amphsonline.org to make an appointment. All of our health services remain free and open to the public regardless of insurance or immigration status.
  • AMPHS is putting a hold on our DACA Ed outreach until further notice. Individuals already enrolled in Fall DACA Ed courses can continue the program for educational advancement purposes. However, they will be discouraged from applying for DACA until we have more information about the President-elect’s plans.
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) states that information shared via DACA applications is protected from disclosure to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for the purpose of immigration enforcement proceedings, though USCIS reserves the right to issue a Notice To Appear or referral to ICE should criteria be met. USCIS also states that this policy may change. We do not know whether there will be a move by the new administration to use USCIS information to remove groups that were never targeted for deportation in the past. Past groups targeted for deportation were generally individuals who had been convicted of a crime. Moreover, President-elect Trump’s plan to deport millions of immigrants seems unfeasible in light of his joint proposal to enforce federal cutbacks. Despite this, circumstances are unpredictable at this time.
  • For those who are not currently DACAmented (that is, receiving benefits under the DACA program) we are no longer citing DACA as a pathway to health insurance. Individuals currently DACAmented will still be able to apply for health insurance under PRUCOL, but we are uncertain of future implications.
  • We do not suggest submitting DACA applications or renewals at this time. Applications submitted now can take several months to be processed and will likely not protect the applicant should DACA be eliminated.
  • While the ACA will be difficult to dismantle entirely, the President-elect can immediately target subsidies, the individual mandate, and the employer mandate. Instead of the ACA, President-elect Trump has proposed tax deductions for healthcare premiums, authorization to purchase health insurance across state lines, and block grants for state Medicaid programs. According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, President-elect Trump’s healthcare plans could cost up to $550 billion and result in the loss of coverage for over 20 million people. The President-elect has suggested he would keep some components of the ACA, such as pre-existing condition protections and the option for children to stay on their parents’ insurance plan up to age 26.

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AMPHS marches with NYC Council Immigration Committee Chair Carlos Menchaca.

 

  • The Obama administration has proposed a new rule that would prevent states from withholding Title X federal family planning money from certain recipients for any reason other than the provider’s “ability to deliver services to program beneficiaries in an effective manner.” Under this rule, states will no longer be able to defund Planned Parenthood. The rule will go into effect after a 30-day public comment period.
  • According to Donald Trump’s website, his administration plans to remove thousands of so-called “criminal aliens” in “joint operations with local, state, and federal law enforcement.” However, many local law enforcement agencies have already claimed that they will not aid President-elect Trump’s deportation efforts, including Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck. Police departments across the country have shared similar sentiments, as have the mayors of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis, Newark, Denver, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Providence, Rhode Island.
  • Donald Trump’s website also states that his administration will “end sanctuary cities,” terminate DACA, and triple the number of ICE agents. And in a recent “60 Minutes” interview, Trump vowed to deport up to 3 million immigrants. Many have argued that these plans are unrealistic and prohibitively expensive, and as already mentioned, many cities have publicly promised to defend against such policies. However, an expansion of ICE and/or more frequent raids is certainly possible. Click here to learn more about how to protect yourself if the police or ICE come to your house.

No matter the political situation, AMPHS remains devoted to advancing quality healthcare to those in need, regardless of income, insurance, or immigration status. We stand in solidarity with our immigrant communities and will work as always to defend the human rights of the most vulnerable.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at (212) 256-9036 or email at info@amphsonline.org. We are here for you.