NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Workers for the Administration for Children’s Services are speaking out about the recent deaths of two little boys — six year old Zymere Perkins and three-year-old Jaden Jordan.
Both boys died as the result of extensive abuse.
Now, some of the case workers are talking about the tragic cases and the challenges they regularly face at work.
For ten years, Trisha Vandecruize has been on the front lines for the administration.
“It’s scary,” she said. “It’s scary not knowing what’s going to be on the other side of the door.”
She says the boys’ recent deaths have hit her hard — and she’s not alone.
“When we hear a child has lost his life, it hurts all of us,” she said. “It touches all of us.”
Vandecruize and dozens of her colleagues lined the steps of City Hall demanding reforms for ACS.
Among them, they called for the de Blasio administration to remove the independent monitor it recently appointed to investigate the agency and how it allegedly failed Perkins and Jordan.
In addition to receiving an independent monitor, three ACS workers were fired in the wake of Perkins’s death.
“Allow the professionals who do the job to do their job,” SSEU Local 371 President Anthony Wells said. “Make sure when you’re trying to get answers to the tragedy you don’t compound the tragedy on the very people who are trying to prevent the conditions going forward.”
“It’s not about the blame game,” DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido said. “It’s about fixing the system.”
The union representing social and case workers has proposed several recommendations for fixing the system. Among them, they say the city can reduce unneeded paperwork, bring back supportive services like addiction and psychological counseling in each office, and be more aggressive in hiring more case workers — which in turn would lessen their caseload.
As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reports, each case worker handles an average of ten cases each — a daunting task that often causes employees to quit.
ACS supervisor Mary Myers says it can quickly become overwhelming.
“A lot of people think they’re able to do ACS and then the first time they go to somebody’s home and you spend 15 minutes getting cursed out by somebody before you can even address the issue,” she said. “They say ‘this is not for me’.”
CBS2 reached out to the city for comment. A spokesman for the mayor responded via email, saying “The independent monitor was brought in to review ACS in the best interest of the children.”
Additionally, the spokesman says the city is continuing aggressive reforms for for the agency.
The city has said they plan on hiring over 600 child protective specialists in 2017.