NYC Administration of Children’s Services is Domestic ICE
There is a direct link between the the mistreatment of immigrant children at the border by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and public indifference toward the systematic removal of African American and Hispanic children in New York City by the Administration of Children’s Services (ACS). Trump’s forcible separation of migrant families would not have been possible without the infrastructure developed over decades for a New Jane Crow that punishes children in the name of saving them. ACS is domestic ICE.
More than 94% of these children are non-white.
The geography of 2017’s 92,413 kids subject to maltreatment investigations was mapped along racial lines. East New York has been number one on the agency’s investigations list for the last five years. Predominantly white neighborhoods south of the Staten Island Expressway rank much lower despite being the epicenter of the opioid epidemic.
ACS does not read miranda rights to parents alleged of abuse or neglect, there’s no legal requirement for the agency to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury of our peers. Caseworkers may give you a written “Notice of Existence”-stating you’ve been named in an open investigation of abuse or maltreatment but they are not obligated to share with you the specific allegations made against you or the identity of your accuser.
All children present in the home can be strip searched or what OCFS refers to as “observation of normally clothed areas of a child’s body”. There’s no presumption of innocence in an ACS investigation of child maltreatment. The only two possible outcomes are indicated-evidence was found or unfounded-evidence was not found. An unfounded investigation will be opened and considered as credible evidence anytime another allegation is made.
Investigations drop from the end of June to the middle of September, likely because schools are the largest professional cohort initiating ACS investigations.
ACS Deputy Commissioner Andrew White stated in a July 17 panel Automating Inequality in Child Welfare using Predictive Analytics organized by Child Welfare Organizing Project (CWOP) Director Joyce McMillan, that half of all children under 18 living in Brownsville have been investigated by ACS at some point in their lifetime.
Pause to think about the weight of that statement. If you are a middle class family, you likely have access to early childhood programs fostering healthy attachment through “gentle separation”-gradually increasing the child’s attendance over weeks to adjust from a caregiver to a new classroom. Why are there neighborhoods where strip searching and interrogating children under threat of removal is the norm?
ACS Commissioner David Hansell’s vision for reform focuses on closer collaboration with the New York Police Department (NYPD) and a return to CHILD-STAT. Increasingly, caseworkers are training with active NYPD officers and collaborating with former law enforcement officials hired by ACS as investigative consultants (IC).
I wrote last summer about the purchase of technology making child welfare investigations more permeable to law enforcement. Why is an agency claiming it “protects and promotes safety and well-being of New York City’s children” recruiting police into the homes of families who reasonably fear their children will be executed by the NYPD?
“Sometimes it’s helping just to get the family to open the door. We have a different knock, and the gift of gab, detectives know how to get doors open”
ACS operates two secure detention centers-Horizon Juvenile Center in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx and Crossroads in Brownsville, Brooklyn. 99.1% of the “juvenile offenders” incarcerated in secure detention are Black and Hispanic. Physical abuse and sexual assault by staff members against the children is rampant. Natalie Medford, a supervisor at Horizon has been repeatedly sued for sexual assault in exchange for privileges given to the teens.
The city is spending $55 million to renovate and expand these two detention centers to comply with Raise The Age’s October 1, 2018 deadline. They’re mandated to receive all children between 16 and 17 years old currently being held on Riker’s Island. It’s unclear whether the city will be able to comply with the deadline given a lawsuit alleging ‘“union-busting,” with correction officers being asked to assume roles now handled by Juvenile Counselors while doing out-of-title work for which they are not suited by either training or temperament.
Non-profit foster care agencies contracted out by ACS to place and supervise local kids are eagerly diversifying and expanding their revenue stream beyond traditional foster care to migrant children.
“Kids are always traumatized whenever they are removed from their families,” Jeremy Kohomban, president of The Children’s Village said in a June 20 telephone interview with New York Nonprofit Media. “It’s heartbreaking. It’s crazy.”
Perhaps Kohomban finds solace for his broken heart in being among the executives whose pay outpaces revenues generated by the agencies housing separated children.
LA Times reported July 9, “New York was probably chosen as a destination for children because of its existing infrastructure for migrant short-term foster care, public officials and migrant advocates said. The Cayuga Centers site is one of several shelters operating in the area.”
“Federal contracts more than tripled Cayuga Centers’ annual budget in recent years as the company provided foster care, physical and mental health screening, schoolteachers and made efforts to return the children to their families.” The USA Today reported Monday.
“Our growth with the Unaccompanied Children program complements the increased work we are doing with NYC’s Administration for Children’s Services in Treatment Foster Care.” noted Cayuga CEO Edward Hayes at a March 2017 reception to celebrate a new office on west 125th street.
Hansell heralds the dawn of a new era with “spiffy” brochures that double as advertising for a transition from a primarily removal based foster care system to a hybrid preventative service model integrating the massive collection of data for risk assessments and predictive analytics.
His predecessor, Gladys Carrion expressed grave concerns about data driven predictive analytics at the May 2016 White House Hackathon “It scares the hell out of me…I think about how we are impacting and infringing on people’s civil liberties,” Carrión said. She added that she runs a system “that exclusively serves black and brown children and families… I am concerned about widening the net under the guise that we are going to help them.”
Data and infrastructure writer Ingrid Burrington’s Urban Omnibus piece, Policing Is an Information Business offers a glimpse into a worldview that justifies implementation of predictive policing techniques in child welfare:
“Since the early 1990s, when precinct commanders pushed pins into paper maps, police in New York have contended that if they can track crime, then they can predict it, and therefore prevent it….More than a set of tools, crime mappers hawk a model of a future world where the cost of guaranteed order would be accountability to the public.”
Hansell is also selling us a world where savage Black and Brown families are managed seamlessly from birth to detention while we track the outcome data. The racist outcomes of predictive analytics has largely avoided ethical accountability through coded language like “at-risk”. It dog whistles at UWS liberals who recently protested efforts to integrate public schools through rezoning rather than the explicit bigotry of the KKK.
ACS is domestic ICE. #DoNotCollaborate