Report Blasts NYC Child Welfare Agency
Thursday, August 09, 2007
By ADAM GOLDMAN, Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK —
The city issued a damning report on its child welfare agency on
Thursday, calling for changes in the way caseworkers look into abuse
and neglect allegations after 10 children died during or after
The city's Department of Investigation said it probed the deaths of
11 children and one who nearly drowned in an eight-month stretch
beginning in October 2005. The department said that in all the
cases, the Administration for Children's Services was either
investigating the parents or had completed its findings.
"In all but one of these cases, DOI has found that the
investigations conducted by ACS were substantially inadequate and
incomplete," the 141-page report said.
The agency showed a pattern of lying, incompetence, carelessness,
ill-trained caseworkers _ and many of the children had preventable
deaths, according to the report.
The cases include the 2006 beating deaths of Nixzmary Brown, 7, and
Quachaun Brown, 4, along with 2-month-old Michael Segarra, who died
in his crib of neglect and tested positive for cocaine at birth.
"In at least one instance, an ACS manager admitted to DOI
investigators that he had falsified records after the death of a
child to make it appear as if he had been actively supervising the
investigation," the report said.
That case involved the Nov. 6, 2005, bathtub drowning of 16-month-
old Dahquay Gillians, whose mother has pleaded guilty to criminally
ACS suspended the manager in December 2005 and forwarded information
about his conduct to Brooklyn prosecutors. ACS said it had
disciplined 14 employees, including firing a caseworker in the
Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered the investigation in January 2006
after widespread concern about whether the agency could properly
investigate and respond to abuse allegations, the report said.
The report also said caseworkers routinely took the word of parents
who denied the allegations. At other times, managers pressured
caseworkers to "close cases within the state-mandated 60-day period
at the expense of a thorough and thoughtful investigation of the
ACS head John B. Mattingly said that it was a very tough report, but
that the agency embraced recommendations to improve. "As
commissioner, it all rests on my shoulders," he said.
The agency said it has drastically increased the number of
caseworkers and reduced each worker's caseload from 22 to 11. ACS
investigated 15,000 more reports of abuse and neglect in 2006 than
the year before, Mattingly said.
The agency also has hired 20 investigative consultants with law
enforcement experience, and plans to hire 100 more. Department of
Investigations Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn said the goal is to have
one investigative consultant per 15 caseworkers.