The head of the city's child welfare agency broke down in tears during an emotional City Council hearing into the death of 6-year-old Zymere Perkins, who lived in Harlem. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
The death of 6-year-old Zymere Perkins brought Child Welfare Commissioner Gladys Carrion to tears at City Hall.
"Losing a child is unbearable, and it's my responsibility, and one that I take seriously," Carrion said.
Carrion has been under fire since the young child, who lived in Harlem, died in late September after he was allegedly beaten to death by his mother's boyfriend. The agency Carrion runs was reportedly warned five times that the boy was being abused.The city's medical examiner found Perkins died from fatal child abuse syndrome.
But instead of pouncing on the commissioner at the hearing, Melissa Mark-Viverito, the speaker of the City Council, offered support.
"I have known you for many, many years, and I never have doubted your commitment to improving the lives of children. This is a tragedy, and many are suffering because of it, including yourself," she said.
The agency recently announced plans to improve coordination with the Department of Education to more effectively track children who may be victims of abuse.
Perkins did not return to school this fall, which critics say should have set off red flags.
"We cannot afford to continue and/or accept the status quo, where our city's most vulnerable children are being abused, malnourished and dying in the care of the very agency that is supposed to protect them," said Public Advocate Letitia James. "It is past time for change at ACS."
The hearing lasted four-and-a-half hours but produced little detail about the city's actual handling of the case. City officials say the district attorney has effectively put a gag order on them while prosecutors conduct their own investigation.