Some city child-welfare workers juggle more than 15 cases :0 More than 14 percent of city child-welfare workers were recently... Some city child-welfare workers juggle more than 15 cases
City child-welfare workers are struggling under their heaviest caseloads since the tragic death of Nixzmary Brown in 2006 — prompting an exodus of employees, an alarming new report shows.
The average field worker at the Administration for Children’s Services carried a decade-high load of 12 cases in June, according to the report released Thursday by the city’s Independent Budget Office.
But 14 percent — more than 170 of the 1,200 abuse investigators — carried caseloads even higher: more than 15 families as of June 2016, the report said.
ACS caseworkers in The Bronx have it the worst, with caseloads consistently higher than elsewhere in the city, the report said.
The heavy grind is contributing to high turnover in the already problem-plagued agency. Nearly one-quarter of the caseworkers have less than a year’s experience at any given time, the report said.
“The work can be very stressful and is not highly paid,” the report notes.
“In 2016, the starting salary for an ACS child-protective specialist was $44,755, with a raise to $48,605 after six months, to $51,830 after 18 months, and a maximum salary of $73,486.”
The report was released in the wake of the brutal beating death of Zymere Perkins last month.
The tragic 6-year-old was fatally tortured — allegedly by his mother’s boyfriend — in Harlem last month after five ACS abuse investigations went nowhere.
The report shows the highs and lows of caseload burdens over the past decade — and reflects a tale of two mayors.
In 2005, Nixzmary, 7, was being slowly tortured to death by her stepfather in her Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, apartment. Twice ACS investigated, including after the girl turned up at school with a black eye.
But harried caseworkers — struggling that year under an average citywide caseload of 11.5 — dropped the ball.
She was beaten to death in January 2006, shocking the city with details of her tragic, short life. The resulting Page 1 stories spurred a spike in abuse reports and investigations.
As the average caseload soared to nearly 17, then-Mayor Mike Bloomberg hiked the number of caseworkers from 900 in 2005 to more than 1,200 in 2006 to lighten the load.
Caseloads slowly began to dive. In 2007, case workers still averaged 13.4 cases, but the number gradually went down, including to an all-time low of 8.7 in 2012.SEE ALSO
Neglect of Children's Services contributed to deaths of 8 kids: report :0 They didn’t have to die. Lax oversight and egregious neglect... Neglect of Children's Services contributed to deaths of 8 kids: report
Then Mayor de Blasio took office, and the numbers rose again.
Spending on ACS’s 1,200 investigative caseworkers and their managers has declined 12 percent since 2007 after adjusting for inflation, the report noted. It’s currently $111 million.
ACS officials say new hiring since the June statistics reflected in the IBO report has reduced the citywide average caseload to 9.2 cases per worker — and that only 3 percent of workers now carry more than 15 cases.
“This year alone, we hired 473 new child-protective specialists, and another 57 are in process to start in November,” a spokeswoman said.
Additional reporting by Laura Italiano