New York City

Blistering Report on Death of 3-Year-Old Brooklyn Boy Finds ACS Woefully Unprepared to Handle Emergency Cases

ACS has agreed to overhaul its Emergency Children's Services unit, which handles cases that arise outside of normal business hours, based on DOI's findings

What to Know

  • Three-year-old Jaden Jordan died in early December, six days after he was found with critical injuries at his Brooklyn home
  • He had been fighting for his life after suffering a fractured skull and a lacerated spleen and liver.
  • His mother's boyfriend was charged with assault and other crimes

The city's Administration for Children's Services is woefully unprepared to handle emergency cases that come up outside of normal business hours, according to a scathing report by the Department of Investigation. 

The DOI report released Thursday stemmed from its investigation into the death of 3-year-old Jaden Jordan, the Brooklyn boy who was allegedly beaten into a coma by his mother's boyfriend and spent nearly a week on a ventilator, fighting for his life, before he passed away last month. 

Jordan had suffered a fractured skull and a lacerated spleen and liver by the time ACS workers got to his Gravesend home on Monday, Nov. 28. ACS had gotten a tip two days earlier about the alleged abuse, but the agency said the address was wrong and it took workers through the weekend to track down Jordan. 

The DOI report rips ACS for failing to get to the boy sooner, saying its investigation found that "the depth of errors over a two-day period was so significant, and the errors involved the overall implementation of policies so basic, that they go to the heart of ACS’s core mission of protecting children and implicate high-level, systemic problems." 

The DOI looked at hundreds of documents, interviews and computer forensics amid its probe into ACS' handling of Jordan's death, and its summary report on the matter indicates ACS workers did have access to databases that would have given them the right address for Jordan sooner. 

Specifically, the report blasted ACS's Emergency Children’s Services (“ECS”) unit, which handles cases during nights, weekends and holidays, as wholly inadequate in terms of staffing, case practice, supervision and training.

Among DOI's findings: ECS managers were inconsistent on reviewing new policies, staff couldn't recall the last time they received training and supervisors said they didn't have time to review casework. Because of high caseloads, child protective specialists within the unit said they didn't have time to check databases thoroughly for information on criminal backgrounds and possible domestic incidents before going out into the field, according to DOI. 

If the allegations involving Jordan had come to ACS during normal business hours, they would have been handled by ACS's Applications Unit, where child welfare specialists are specifically trained in performing critical searches of databases that could've helped find the boy sooner, DOI said. 

According to the report, ACS agreed to form a new ECS Applications Unit with specialized training on database assessment. The agency will also look at caseloads within ECS and determine staffing needs. 

ACS has said an internal review found none of its staffers acted inappropriately in the Jordan case, but DOI said the agency recently said it is taking various actions against six staff members, including corrective action plans, retraining and, for some, disciplinary charges including suspension. 

In a statement Thursday, ACS spokeswoman Aja Worthy-Davis said Jordan's death is "deeply disturbing."

"From the time we received an anonymous report with various inaccuracies, to the 48 hours in which when we clarified data and visited the location, vital time was lost," Worthy-Davis said. "We have reviewed and are implementing many of DOI’s recommendations, and are disciplining staff who failed to exercise critical thinking in investigating this case."

Days after Jordan's death, Gladys Carrion resigned as commissioner of the ACS. And weeks after that, an audit by the New York City comptroller's office found at least 10 children had died within three months under ACS watch, possibly due to a lack of follow-up on several high profile cases.

Mayor de Blasio has ordered an independent monitor for the agency. 

In a statement Thursday, Comptroller Scott Stringer said the DOI's investigation should come as a "wake-up call" to the city's child welfare agency, which he says suffers from "persistent problems".

"ACS and City government must come to the realization that the agency needs a dramatic overhaul," he said. "Today's DOI investigation, once again, validates the concerns by many regarding ACS."

DOI offered several recommendations for ACS in its report, including coordination with the NYPD, audits and case practice reviews, revisions to investigative policy, and a comprehensive assessment of staffing needs and vulnerabilities. The report also called for additional measures to improve accountability and transparency. 

Jordan's mother's boyfriend has been charged with assault and other crimes in the case. The boyfriend initially claimed he placed the boy, who law enforcement sources said was found soiled, in the bathtub to take a shower and the child slipped and hit his head. He claimed he gave Jordan CPR. But the sources said the injuries weren't consistent with being given CPR.

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