NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new leader for the city’s troubled Administration for Children’s Services on Tuesday.
David Hansell was named as the new commissioner of the ACS, during a time that the agency has been facing intense scrutiny.
“I can’t think of a more important public service opportunity,” Hansell said. “I can’t think of a more important way to contribute to life for the most vulnerable individuals and families in our city.”
Said de Blasio: “He has a personal strength to understand that no matter how daunting the social problem he deals with, it’s his job to make a difference, and he knows he can.”
Hansell, 63, previously served in the U.S. Administration for Children and Families and the city’s Human Resource Administration. He spent the last five years as managing director and head of the Global Human & Social Services Center of Excellence at KPMG.
“My job will be to build on what ACS is doing well, to fix what isn’t working and to move mountains to support the work of the agency’s 6,000 committed and courageous staff,” Hansell said.
Hansell is taking over the job left vacant by Gladys Carrion, who stepped down from the position last December amid widespread criticism for the agency’s handling of multiple cases.
Among them was 6-year-old Zymere Perkins, who was allegedly beaten to death at the hands of his mother’s boyfriend in September.
And in December, 3-year-old Jaden Jordan died after being allegedly beaten into a coma. His mother’s boyfriend is also accused in his death.
An independent monitor is now investigating ACS after widespread systemic problems were revealed.
“I think there’s some temptation in the reporting to take something that is unusual and exceptional and try and suggest that it is systemic when I’m not sure it is systemic,” de Blasio said.
Civil attorney Abe George, who represents the family of Zymere Perkins, said Hansell could already be starting on the wrong foot.
“If the ACS commissioner is taking the attitude of the mayor in that there isn’t a systematic problem, we’re going to have an issue,” he said. “And unfortunately, we may see more children that will pass because of the failures of ACS.”
Hansell acknowledged the challenges ahead, outlining his priorities for Day 1.
“First, I will do a top-to-bottom review of ACS’s protective and preventive functions to strengthen what’s working and to change what isn’t,” he said.
He also said he’ll be looking at what reforms need to be implemented and how the agency can better work with the NYPD to protect the children in its care, CBS2’s Janelle Burrell reported.
“As the mayor and I said, our job is to protect every child in the city, and we will do everything in our power to make that happen,” Hansell said.
Hansell also said he will be looking very closely at caseload issues. ACS investigates more than 55,000 child neglect or abuse cases a year with just 1,800 case workers on staff. De Blasio said 100 more case workers will be added by April.
Hansell will begin his new position on March 6.