Child abuse reports increased in the wake of two high-profile cases from 2016 involving New York City's Administration for Children's services, a recent report found.
The horrifying deaths of six year-old Zymere Perkins and three year-old Jaden Jordan in 2016 provoked outrage over the handling of the children's cases by the ACS, which was made aware of abuse complaints involving the boys but ultimately did little to remove them from their dangerous homes. But it appears the high-profile tragedies increased the public's willingness to report child abuse; the NYC Independent Budget Office says there was an increase of reports and subsequent investigations of child abuse in the months that followed.
In October through December of 2016, investigations of suspected child abuse or maltreatment rose by 1,383, a ten percent increase from the same period of time in the previous year. (Perkins died in September 2016, Jordan in early December 2016.) And the number of abuse reports that were substantiated rose by twenty percent compared to the previous year—from 19,980 to 23,981.
The report also revealed that city spending on ACS investigative staff increased in the wake of the tragedies. Despite the fact that budgeting for investigative staff was a projected $105.3 million, actual spending totaled $127.8 million.
But while the number of hearings in family court increased significantly after the boys' deaths and now totals nearly 10,000, the number of children in foster care has continued to decline, the report says, "from an annual average of more than 34,350 in fiscal year 2000 to 9,900 in 2016 to 8,765 through April of this year." This means that the total number of children placed under court-ordered supervision has grown, with the rise in investigations not resulting in more children being separated from their parents. The report adds that children in foster care have been achieving "permanency," i.e., being reunited with their parents, adopted, or released into the custody of another guardian, more quickly than in previous years.
This increase in reports and investigations comes after ACS bureaucracy failed both Perkins and Jordan, serially abused children who, due to blunders on ACS's end, were not removed from their abusive households.
Six year-old Zymere Perkins was beaten to death with a broomstick by his mother's boyfriend, despite repeated reports to ACS that he was being physically and emotionally abused. And three year-old Jordan Jaden was found unconscious at his home after allegedly being beaten by his mother's boyfriend; the child later died after being taken off life support. ACS had received a tip of an abused child days before Jaden was hospitalized, but the tipster gave them the address of the home next door. ACS workers were apparently unable to figure out the correct address until after Jaden was taken to the hospital.