New ACS Commissioner Using Data, Added Resources To Reform Agency

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The city’s Administration for Children’s Services has been under heavy scrutiny lately after the deaths of several children.

As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported Wednesday, ACS is now under new leadership. But will things change?

ACS is getting to know its new Commissioner, David Hansell.

“Performance improvement is a never-ending process,” Hansell said.

CBS2 conducted a rare one-on one interview with Hansell, two months in to his challenging job of fixing an agency so troubled that its own caseworkers and members of the public call it a mess.

“There’s too many kids being harmed,” said Michele Rios of Tremont, the Bronx.

“They have to hire more caseworkers,” said Steve Ioannau of Flatbush, Brooklyn.

ACS is under fire after headline-making deaths of kids the agency was supposed to be protecting.

(FILE Carrion Crying)

Prior Commissioner Gladys Carrión cried at a City Council hearing, and then resigned, after Zymere Perkins, 6, was beaten to death in Harlem this past September even though ACS had an open file on his family.

Jaden Jordan, 3, died with a fractured skull in Brooklyn in December after neighbors called in a tip, but ACS workers went to the wrong address.

“What we have launched today we think is a new ChildStat model that will strengthen performance accountability at ACS in very significant ways,” Hansell said.

Hansell was present for a reboot of ChildStat, a system that has been around more than two decades.

Weekly gatherings are held in conference and in the field to go over where cases are — zone by zone. A map is set up with the highest number of reports indicated in red.

“What ChildStat is about, really, is learning from a close analysis of data,” Hansell said.

Hansell said the data was tracked properly before, but “we haven’t had this particular mechanism to engage our front line workers in the process.”

Meanwhile, ACS workers complained say they are overwhelmed with too many cases each.

The new commissioner’s other fixes for ACS include adding staff, hiring in advance of attrition, and being prepared when people leave. In addition, he is planning for better resources and training so staff members work more effectively and want to stay on a job that, no matter what, is tough.

At ChildStat meetings, ACS leaders also discuss a randomly-selected high-risk case, with mandatory follow-ups within three months.

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