City reforms children’s services practices following death of abused 6-year-old boy

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The City is reforming child care following the death of 6-year-old Zymere Perkins.

CITY HALL — City services are preparing reforms to better prevent abuse and protect children  following the death of a 6-year-old boy in September.

The Administration of Children’s Services announced several reforms at a City Council hearing Monday. The reforms were developed in the wake of the Sept. 26 death of Zymere Perkins, who died after months of acute and chronic abuse from his mother and her boyfriend.

“Losing a child is unbearable and it’s my responsibility and one that I take seriously,” said Gladys Carrión, ACS commissioner.

Carrión, through tears, laid out a plan to improve services citywide. There will be two new courses to further educate caseworkers so they can pinpoint signs of abuse and neglect and help children. Under the new policies, a school absence of just one day will also trigger an investigation if the absent child has an open ACS abuse or neglect case. Other reforms include a plan to restore a funding cut made in 2008 and place an ACS employee in each borough district attorney’s office.

Public Advocate Letitia James criticized the ACS; it shouldn’t have taken the death of a child to bring about reform, she said.

The city has devoted $139 million toward ACS training, preventative services and other vital measures since 2014, said mayoral spokesperson Aja Worthy-Davis.

“This administration continues to build on policies the mayor has long advocated to strengthen the social welfare network,” Worthy-Davis said. “We recognize that keeping kids safe is – and should be – collaborative work.”