Mayor Bloomberg and ACS Commissioner Mattingly Graduate 230 New ACS Caseworkers and Challenge Albany to Take Next Steps to Protect New York's Most Vulnerable Children
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) Commissioner John Mattingly today presided over the graduation of 230 new ACS caseworkers at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, bringing the total number of ACS frontline caseworkers and other child welfare investigators to 1,310. This number represents a 44% net increase in the number of caseworkers on staff since the death of seven-year-old Nixzmary Brown last January. While congratulating these new graduates and their families, the Mayor challenged Albany legislators to break the legislative logjam and to change the law to allow ACS caseworkers to check and compare criminal records of adults in households where credible child abuse allegations have been reported. The Mayor also announced today that he would lobby Albany to make assaulting a social worker a felony crime – a protection already granted to teachers, police officers, and transit workers.
“No one would ever ask a police officer to investigate a crime without being able to see a suspect’s history – yet this is exactly what our ACS workers are forced to do. They’re out there with one hand tied behind their backs,” Mayor Bloomberg said. “That’s why I am strongly supporting a bill in Albany which would give our frontline caseworkers – for the very first time – the ability to run rap sheets on any adult in the house where an allegation has been made. The reality is that making a determination about a child’s safety is hard enough – but making it without the best and fullest information is just plain dangerous.”
“Today’s graduates join the ranks of new and committed caseworkers hired in the past year, and are the first stop in protection for the children. With the successful rollout of ChildStat and other critical measures, we are making tough changes to protect our City’s children. It’s now up to Albany to take the next steps,” said ACS Commissioner John Mattingly.
Currently, ACS workers who learn of allegations of criminal activity by an adult can only ask about that specific allegation, and cannot check computer records for any other criminal history. They have no easy way of finding out if a parent is a sex offender, has committed a felony assault, or has a history of domestic violence. The Mayor today pledged his Administration’s strong support for legislation working its way through the Assembly and Senate that would change this by giving frontline caseworkers – for the very first time – the ability to run “rap sheets” on parents accused of abusing or neglecting their children.
The Mayor today also promised that his office would work hard to make assaulting a social worker a felony crime—a protection already granted to teachers, police officers, and transit workers.
In the months after the death of Nixzmary Brown, Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Mattingly pledged a comprehensive series of reforms to plug gaps in the child welfare system and significantly reduce the chances that any child could fall through the cracks again. In addition to hiring, training, and deploying new caseworkers like those they congratulated today – and ACS continues to hire an average of 80 new caseworkers a month – the City has revamped the Instant Response Teams so that police officers and caseworkers collaborate more efficiently on the most severe cases of abuse.
ACS also successfully rolled out “ChildStat” – based on the NYPD’s highly-successful CompStat – to measure and improve its effectiveness in protecting children, and to train medical providers to better recognize and report the warning signs of abuse or neglect. Later this year, ACS will expand that training to child care providers, too. Also, as announced in the January State of the City address, ACS will open the New York City Leadership Academy for Child Safety in April to give extra training to all managers in child protection.
During today’s ceremony, the Mayor also recognized the 20 veteran law enforcement professionals that ACS has placed in field offices to help child protective workers sharpen their investigative skills. Over the last year, ACS caseworkers investigated roughly 70,000 reports of abuse and neglect – an average of one every eight minutes – ensuring the safety of more than 90,000 children across the city.
Stu Loeser / Dawn Walker (Mayor's Office): (212) 788-2958
Sharman Stein (ACS): (212) 341-0999