After Zymere Perkins’s Death In Harlem, David Hansell Is Ready To Take On ACS (Update)

October 2, 2017

NYPost reports that then David Hansell took the helm at the Administration for Children’s Services earlier this year, the city’s embattled child- welfare agency was still reeling from a string of high-profile deaths.

But Hansell said he wasn’t about to back down from the job, even as he acknowledged it’s “tough.”

“I like a challenge, and I feel we’ve come a long way the past [seven] months,” Hansell, 64, told The Post.

“I know there’s a feeling of greater stability. I think morale is improving, and I think people are feeling the tangible impact of the reforms that we have made.”

The pressure of being commissioner was enough for his predecessor, Gladys Carrión, to break down in tears last Halloween while being grilled at a City Council hearing about the broomstick-bludgeoning slaying of 6-year-old Zymere Perkins.

At the time, ACS was the subject of scathing reports by both the city’s Department of Investigation and the state’s Office of Children and Family Services. They detailed how poor training and other systemic failures at ACS led to its staff botching the abuse investigations.

Since taking over, Hansell has received praise from even some of the agency’s staunchest critics for strengthening ACS’s coordination with the NYPD on abuse cases, revitalizing the agency’s data-collecting ChildStat safety program and other key initiatives.

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ACS has also addressed a longtime gripe that caseworkers are spread too thin — no small feat considering that the high-profile child deaths spurred a spike in abuse complaints.

“One of the biggest concerns, certainly, when I came on board was our caseloads . . . and a major focus of mine has been reducing those caseloads to a manageable level, so our child-protective specialists can do their work in the most professional manner,” said Hansell, who previously worked in the public and private sector, most recently as managing director of global accounting and consulting giant KPMG.

ACS hired 620 extra caseworkers in the spring and will hire 575 more by the end of next June.

On September 24, 2017 — two days before Zymere Perkins’s death in Harlem — the average worker handled 9.2 cases. That number rose to 13.9 by the end of March, exceeding ACS’s own acceptable maximum of averaging 12 per worker. As of last week, the caseload average was down to 9.8.

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