‘At Least' 10 Children Died in 3 Months on ACS Watch: Probe

The tragedies were among the 38 deaths involving at-risk children flagged by the ACS for high-priority investigation

What to Know

  • Ten children at the subject of several abuse complaints to ACS died in three months, a probe by the office Comptroller Scott Stringer found.
  • Nearly three-quarters of high-priority cases were closed without a manager reviewing them three times, an agency requirement
  • Former ACS Commissioner Gladys Carrion announced her resignation following the agency's missteps in several high-profile child deaths

At least 10 children have died within three months under the watch of the city's child welfare agency, possibly due to a lack of follow-up on several high-profile cases, including Zymere Perkins, a scathing audit has found.

Comptroller Scott Stringer's office investigated 3,700 high-priority cases in a three-month period.

Zymere, 6, was allegedly subjected to months of abuse by his mother Geraldiner Perkins, and her boyfriend, Ryshiem Smith. He was brutally bludgeoned to death with a broomstick Sept. 26. A Dec. 14 report revealed a laundry list of missed warning signs and chances to save the boy.

Stringer's probe revealed that the agency closed 53 high-priority cases involving four or more complaints without an Administration for Children's Services manager having face-to-face contact with the children in question. In 22 percent of the cases, the agency didn't make face-to-face contact within 24 hours.

"The agency is not stepping its game, and as a result more kids are in harm's way," Stringer said Thursday. "This is something that is a tragedy of our city and something we must deal with."

Roughly 32 percent of cases didn't have the five required reviews by an ACS manager, Stringer's audit found. Nearly three-quarters were closed without a manager looking them over three times, the comptroller said.

In 68 percent of the cases, ACS was unable to produce a risk-assessment profile within the required 40 days, the probe found. 

ACS and Mayor de Blasio's office disputed Stringer's findings, telling the New York Post that 21 of the 38 deaths Stringer cited had no prior history with ACS. 

The agency has come under fire in recent months in the wake of several high-profile child deaths. ACS Commissioner Gladys Carrion resigned last week. 

In late October, Carrion was brought to tears as she talked at a City Council hearing about Perkins. She said at the time that "losing a child is unbearable" and said "it's my responsibility" to keep them safe. Weeks prior to that hearing, Carrion told the I-Team in an exclusive interview that try as she might, she can't protect every child. 

The day Carrion resigned, Stringer called on City Hall to put forth a "clear, transparent plan for reform." 

"It’s clear our city is failing our most vulnerable children," Stringer said in a statement. "Whether its kids being put in dangerous foster care homes, cluster sites with serious violations or commercial hotels where there are no services, the status quo is unacceptable."

The following day, de Blasio announced he would appoint an independent monitor to oversee the embattled agency. The announcement came on the heels of a report by the state that detailed multiple failings by the city in its handling of Perkins' case. 

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