When a child dies at the hands of a supposed caregiver, the city's pain is unfathomable. We must push through that pain to demand justice and determine whether the death could have been prevented.
New York City now has an obligation to do precisely that, times four.
On Sept. 9, in Morrisania, 15-month-old Legacy Beauford was beaten to death, allegedly by his mother's boyfriend. Two days later, 4-year-old Aisyn Gonzalez, home with mom's boyfriend in Williamsburg, succumbed to head and rib injuries. The following day, 4-year-old Jace Eubanks was murdered, allegedly by his stepfather, inside his Gowanus apartment.
These unspeakable tragedies come after the August killing of 7-year-old Bronxite Julissia Batties. Cops say her 17-year-old half-brother admitted to hitting her repeatedly for eating his snacks.
The Administration for Children's Services is bound by law to investigate allegations of abuse and remove youngsters from dangerous environments. ACS does not have preternatural precrime powers, but it has a solemn obligation to take evidence seriously and act in the best interest of children.
Here, ACS Commissioner David Hansell and the city have urgent questions to answer.
Child welfare workers had been in contact with the Batties family since Julissia's birth, and reunited the girl with her mother despite serious evidence of ongoing abuse. A daycare reported bruises on Jace his and his brother in late August; ACS reportedly interviewed them, but the children remained at home. In little Legacy's case, the NYPD had responded to at least three 911 calls about a baby crying at his home since May, two of which were reported as possible child abuse.
ACS says it is getting better at zeroing in on cases where children are most at risk with aid of predictive analytics, and that cases of repeat maltreatment are falling, and that it is reviewing its involvement in all these cases. It simultaneously claims it is forbidden under state law from saying anything about its contacts with any of the families. But that statute makes an explicit exception for cases in which "the child named in the report has died or the report involves the near fatality of a child" - provided it's not contrary to the best interests of any siblings.
Hansell says the information will come out when its internal investigation is complete. That's far too long to wait.