Investigators at the Administration for Children’s Services working in Queens consistently maintain an lower average number of investigative cases than the citywide average, according to a recently released analysis by New York City’s Independent Budget Office. It is the only borough to do so.
The IBO analysis comes after the death of 6-year-old Zymere Perkins, who was killed on Sept. 26 in Harlem. Perkins’ mother and her boyfriend were charged with his death. Perkins’ mother had previously been investigated by the ACS for alleged abuse, and his death led multiple city agencies and elected officials to examine the efficacy of the organization.
The IBO looked to see if recommendations and suggested changes made in the aftermath of a similar death of 7-year-old Nixzmary Brown in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuvesant in January 2006 were instituted and maintained.
Part of the report included an analysis of the average case loads for ACS investigators to examine whether too strenuous a workload could lead to missing key information in cases.
In 2006, the average case load for individual workers in the city increased dramatically from the year before to 16.6, likely in response to Brown’s death. Thus far in 2016, the citywide average, taking into account the individual average of each borough, stands at 12 per worker.
However, Queens is the only borough where the individual borough average is below the citywide average. The average investigative case load for Queens stands at 9.8, while the other four boroughs range from 12.2 to 13.2. Queens’ relatively low average case load is keeping the investigative citywide average lower. Since 2009, Queens consistently maintained a lower average case load than the city as a whole. Average case loads by borough first became available in 2007.
In the aftermath of Nixmary Brown’s death in 2006, the ACS dramatically increased the number of caseworkers, though the number of average case loads increased as well. The IBO analysis found that there was an initial drop in the average tenure of caseworkers after Nixmary’s death, which the IBO speculated was due to an influx of new caseworkers and increased regulations. However, the number of caseworkers has remained higher than prior to Brown’s death, and this will likely continue.
The IBO also found that the number of investigations into abuse or neglect has consistently remained higher since Nixmary’s death, which led the IBO to conclude that public awareness campaigns encouraging people to report possible instances of abuse have worked.
In the aftermath of Zymere’s death, Mayor Bill de Blasio said there would be increased training for caseworkers, and recently his administration pledged that ACS would work with the Department of Education and the NYPD in tracking abused children.
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona
©2016 Community News Group
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