ACS making changes after blistering report, high-profile child deaths

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Tim Fleischer has the latest details.

In the wake of a recent investigation and several high-profile child deaths, New York City's Administration for Child Services has announced it is making changes.

City investigators are probing the workings of the ACS following the death of Jaden Jordan, who was allegedly beaten into a coma in his Graves End home, and the recent classification of a 3-year-old's death over the summer as a homicide.

The Department of Investigations on Thursday issued a scathing report citing systemic problems with the agency.

The investigation found that even though ACS received the report of alleged abuse on Saturday, November 26, investigators did not find the child until he was allegedly beaten into a coma on Monday, November 28.

"If ACS had followed their normal protocols, they would have had that address on Saturday and had the ability to find Jaden Jordan two days before he was beaten to death," DOI Commissioner Mark Peters said. "If this call had come in during business hours, there is a much better chance that Jaden Jordan would be alive."

Jordan's mother's boyfriend, 24-year-old Salvatore Lucchesse, has since been charged in the case.

The investigation revealed that ACS had access to databases with Jordan's correct address two days before he died, and that there was inadequate staffing and supervision during nights, weekends and holidays. Additionally, off-hours staff could not recall the last time they received training.

Ama Dwimoh is the former chief of the Crimes Against Children bureau in the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office and has prosecuted many ACS cases. She is troubled by the findings in the latest report.

"There are so many wonderful committed case workers within ACS who do a tremendous job," she said. "We must all be as vigilant, every hour of every day, no matter if it's a holiday, when it comes to protecting children. It belongs to all of us."

On Friday, ACS officials announced they will add specially-trained staff with expertise in researching and locating families to Emergency Children's Services evenings/weekends unit and is expanding its policy team to improve oversight of case management.

They are also creating a dedicated 12-member unit to audit concerns about the practice of individual caseworkers and will increase the number of investigative consultants (former NYPD detectives) to help with investigations.

Additionally, ACS will issue guidance to Child Protective Specialists reminding them how to handle all investigations, including those with anonymous sources, and will work across city agencies to ensure police presence when necessary during child protective investigations.

"We took a look at the report and are taking everything under consideration," NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said. "We are going to use our resources to the best of our ability to keep people safe, to keep children safe."
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