ACS Commissioner Gladys Carrion said her agency can’t protect every kid in the city despite a whopping $ 2.9 billion budget.
DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU
Updated: Tuesday, October 4, 2016, 6:48 PM
She says there was nothing she could do.
Despite a staggering $ 2.9 billion budget, the embattled head of the Administration for Children’s Services admitted Tuesday that the city agency can’t fulfill its sole purpose — protecting kids from danger.
“We keep children safe, but we can’t keep every child safe,” a teary-eyed ACS Commissioner Gladys Carrion told NBC-4. “And why can’t we? You struggle with that.”
After ducking the press for more than a week following the brutal beating death of 6-year-old Zymere Perkins, Carrion offered the shocking admission that her agency just can’t handle the task of protecting the city’s most vulnerable residents.
“To have a fatality on your watch despite everything that you do, all the improvements you put into place, the hiring of staff, the training, a new training academy,” Carrion whispered.
Carrion has taken heat for refusing to address the tragic case of Zymere, a Harlem boy who police say died Sept. 26 after being brutalized by his troubled mother’s hulking beau.
The boy’s horrifying death has raised questions about the performance of ACS, whose caseworkers investigated five allegations of child abuse but left Zymere living with his mother and her boyfriend.
City Hall officials have scheduled a press conference Wednesday to address issues of “policy and practice” highlighted by Zymere’s death.
Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito says the hearing will examine how the city is protecting “those who are most vulnerable.”
Carrion told NBC that five employees are on administrative leave while the agency investigates what went wrong.
The City Council will also hold a hearing to grill officials on the city’s handling of child abuse and neglect after the boy’s death, they announced Tuesday.
The Oct. 31 hearing will probe how ACS’s policies affect the investigation of child abuse and neglect cases.
Pols will also question de Blasio administration officials on the why case managers’ caseloads have jumped from 8.7 in the 2012 fiscal year to 10.6 in 2016 — despite a budget boost of $ 58 million.
“This hearing will examine just how effective a job the city is doing to protect those who are most vulnerable,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.
Council members also plan to examine whether ACS has acted on any of the recommendations in a scathing report by the city Department of Investigation.
“We will better understand the circumstances around the heartbreaking death of Zymere Perkins, as well as broader systemic challenges to investigating allegations of abuse and neglect,” said Councilman Steve Levin (D-Brooklyn), chair of the general welfare committee, which oversees ACS.
Rysheim Smith is accused of beating 6-year-old Zymere Perkins with a broom handle.
(Alec Tabak/for New York Daily News)
Earlier Tuesday, Carrion was much less civil with a Daily News photographer.
The ACS head snapped at the shutterbug — for taking a picture of her on a public sidewalk.
“How many more photos are you gonna take?” Carrion said as she left her Bronx home and stepped into a black Toyota SUV. “This is invasion of privacy, if you ask me.”
A day earlier, the commissioner needed a City Hall escort to shield her from a reporter and photographer.
Mayor de Blasio spokesman Eric Phillips rushed to Carrion’s home to run interference as she left for work.
“We heard you guys were here, so they sent me,” Phillips told a reporter.
Authorities say Zymere’s mother Geraldine Perkins, 26, did nothing as her boyfriend Rysheim Smith, 42, pounded on her son with a wooden broomstick after he defecated into an ice bucket.
Daily News front page for Sept. 28, 2016.
(New York Daily News)
Smith then hung the boy’s limp body by his T-shirt from a hook on their bathroom door.
After Zymere’s death, it was revealed that his mother had been investigated five times for various child abuse allegations.
De Blasio acknowledged that the system failed Zymere — but no one has addressed why the boy wasn’t removed from his mother’s care.
Perkins and her boyfriend have been locked up on child endangerment charges. The charges could be upgraded to murder after the medical examiner determines the boy’s cause of death.
A viewing for Zymere will be held Friday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Lawrence Woodward Funeral Home in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
A funeral will follow at Church of the Open Door on Gold St. in Fort Greene.