Bill de Blasio to appoint independent ACS monitor in wake of child deaths

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016
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Dray Clark reporting live

NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday announced that an independent monitor will be appointed to oversee the troubled Administration for Children's Services.

On Monday, director Gladys Carrion announced her sudden resignation in the wake of the deaths of two children under the department's supervision.

City leaders and experts in child abuse believe this is a pivotal time for ACS, and that includes the call for an independent monitor.

"We still have to figure out what can we do to make the agency stronger," de Blasio said. "I think independent eyes on the situation will do it. The mission is to look at the structural issues, not individual cases."

The beating deaths of 6-year-old Zymere Perkins, whose mother was investigated five times for abuse, and 3-year-old Jaden Jordan, who died after suffering brain and internal injuries, has turned the spotlight on ACS.

De Blasio also said in a statement that others had been fired or suspended because of the deaths.

"As a result of this investigation, we've ordered the firings of three employees directly involved in Zymere's care. We've moved to suspend and demote another six employees who should have shown better judgment in carrying out one of the most important and difficult missions of City government," he said.

MORE: ACS head breaks down at hearing over Harlem boy's death

Jaden's death was in Brooklyn, where Eric Adams is borough president.

"It's ACS' job, when they are put on notice, to make sure that notice does not fall on deaf or bureaucratic ears," he said.

The search for a new commissioner will also now begin. "We are going to deepen all of those reforms," de Blasio said. "We are going to look for a very aggressive leader who can help us continue that work."

Ama Dwimoh is the former chief of the Crimes Against Children bureau in the Brooklyn DA's office.

"We need to focus on what really works and what didn't," he said. "So it's time for an objective review of good practices, best practices."

Since Jordan's death, Dwimoh and Adams have created Operation CARE, a campaign to get the community involved in identifying child abuse. "When it comes to saving the lives of the children, that belongs to all of us," Dwimoh said. "It doesn't just solely rest with ACS. It really doesn't. It rests with each and every person."

Adams also stressed the importance of everyday citizens in protecting children.

"We have to open our eyes," he said. "Don't ignore it. And we have to report it when we see it."

However, Department of Investigations Commissioner Mark Peters disagreed with the effectiveness of the new monitor.

"DOI is the independent monitor for ACS; we are not sure what another independent monitor would add," he said in a statement. "DOI has already released two independent reviews of ACS this year and will release a third, showing failures at the highest level, early next year. As DOI has informed City Hall, ACS needs leadership that will actually implement the recommendations that DOI and others have called for time and again."