The testimony that came out of Manhattan Supreme Court in the last week concerning the short, tortured life of Zymere Perkins was revolting and heartbreaking.
The child was six years old when he suffered his last beating in September 2016, his mother’s boyfriend allegedly using a broom handle and shower curtain rod to brutalize Zymere, before hanging the dying boy on the back of a bathroom door in the family’s Harlem apartment.
The Administration for Children’s Services had opened five investigations on the family,based on calls from Zymere’s teachers and neighbors.
The child had gone to school with a broken jaw, busted teeth, and fractured ribs.
But none of the concerned, community reporting resulted in Zymere being removed from his household.
The city official who was hired to overhaul ACS in the aftermath of Zymere’s death appeared on PIX11 Facebook Live Monday night to talk about confronting severe challenges.
“We’ve added about 1,100 child care specialists,” Commissioner David Hansell noted.“They truly are our ‘first responders‘ when children are in danger.’”
The previous Commissioner of ACS, Gladys Carrion, resigned in the wake of the Zymere Perkins case and another child abuse death that followed soon after.
“Our average caseload is down about half,” Commissioner Hansell said on the Monday edition of “Mary Murphy Files.”
Hansell noted at their peak, caseloads could average 14.8 files per employee.That number is now down to 7.2.
“We’ve invested in technology and Zip cars,” Hansell said. “40 percent of those in foster care” are with a relative or family friend.
Hansell noted with many preventive services available, more families are now staying intact.
“We have 8,300 children in foster care,” Hansell said. “Ten years ago, it was 17,000.”
Hansell did acknowledge “there are cases where people use the hotline for harassment. That is a criminal offense.”
Hansell said ACS launches 60,000 child abuse investigations a year, based on calls or e-mails (which can be anonymous) from the public.