What to Know
- NYC's Administration for Children's Services has doubled the number of frontline workers responding to abuse tips on nights and weekends
- It's one of a few changes made at the agency's Emergency Children's Services unit, which responds to off-hour calls
- Commissioner Hansell made the decision to double the size of the ECS team from 61 workers to 120 after finding it dangerously overburdened
The NYC Administration for Children’s Services has doubled the number of frontline workers responding to child abuse tips on nights and weekends.
It’s one of several changes at the agency’s Emergency Children’s Services unit (ECS), which only operates after-hours, dispatching workers to homes across the five boroughs to assess the immediate safety of children when the rest of ACS’s offices are closed. If ECS workers determine a home is unsafe, they have the authority to remove children on an emergency basis.
Commissioner David Hansell made the decision to double the size of the ECS team from 61 workers to 120 after concluding it was dangerously overburdened. According to ACS data, half the city’s 57,000 child abuse tips recorded so far this year came in on nights and weekends, with disproportionately few workers on duty.
ACS’s field offices, which make home visits during business hours, are staffed with several hundred workers who also manage cases on an ongoing basis, unlike ECS.
The I-Team spent a night with the ECS team to observe the impact of the changes.
“We were so short staffed,” says Walid Ghaus, an ECS frontline worker. “Five days a week, we were working 14, 15, 16, 18 hour tours. The consequence of that unfortunately was a few terrible cases and investigations that went awry.”
One of those cases was that of 3-year-old Jaden Jordan. Jordan died two years ago, days after ECS workers responded to an anonymous tip that led them to a wrong address. They were unaware Jayden was living in a cage and being savagely beaten in the home next door.
After Jordan’s death, a DOI investigation called for ACS to create a new “applications” unit to support ECS workers with background checks and database searches on nights and weekends. Such a unit might have helped workers locate Jayden Jordan before it was too late. Today, that unit is up and running, helping to arm workers with information about parents’ criminal history and prior child abuse investigations before they knock on a family’s door.