By Mark Hallum
The city has a new commissioner of the Administration for Children’s Services after series of incidents involving the deaths of several toddlers, including 5-year-old Michael Guzman from Jamaica, forced Gladys Carrion to resign.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the appointment of David Hansell, a former Obama administration official, to the position Tuesday. Hansell has experience overseeing large-scale agencies which serve at-risk communities with vital social services, according to City Hall.
“Our most solemn responsibility is to provide vulnerable children with the care and support they deserve,” de Blasio said.
“David Hansell understands this mission deeply – and that’s why I know he’s the tight choice to lead ACS and the implement an aggressive reform agenda focused on preventative services for kids and families. David has spent his career on the front lines working with at-risk communities, and I have no he’ll tackle this job with the same focus and intensity that’s defined his career.”
Hansell has worked at the federal level as an acting assistant secretary and principal deputy assistant secretary for the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Resources.
He oversaw a division with an annual budget of about $50 billion and managed a staff of approximately 1,400. Child welfare, economic support, early childhood education and special population programs were key focus for Hansell at HHS.
But Hansell’s appointment comes at a time when the efficiency of ACS has been called into question by the city.
The city Department of Investigation has had ACS under its microscope for the deaths of several New York City children whose families had been allegedly reported to the agency for abuse.
Michael Guzman, 5, was found dead in his Jamaica home in January.
The family had been visited by ACS a number of times prior to the child’s death.
A preliminary review from the medical examiner showed there were acute signs of trauma on Guzman.
Jaden Jordan was a 3-year-old from Brooklyn who allegedly died at the hands of his mother’s boyfriend in December. Jordan’s death came just two days after the city had investigators respond to a report of abuse.But an erroneous address led three investigators to the wrong home.
Zymere Perkins was a Harlem 6-year-old who allegedly died at the hands of his mother and her boyfriend in September. Seven ACS workers have been demoted and suspended for lack of supervision and communication failures as a result of the Perkins case.
“DOI’s examination will track the other cases we have opened involving children who have died and were known to ACS, including Jaden Jordan and Zymere Perkins. Reports on these children and at least five others are expected to be completed in the near future,” DOI Commissioner Mark Peters said in January.
“These investigations will build on the findings we have already published regarding failures by ACS in its investigatory and foster care oversight and will focus on the actions of ACS staff, what real-time actions they took in response, and persistent vulnerabilities within ACS that DOI’s investigations continue to expose.”
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall