Brooklyn DA Investigates Failure of Child Welfare Agency to Protect Child

Friday, October 08, 2010

In a rare move, The Brooklyn District Attorney's office says it will investigate the city's child welfare agency and its role in the death of 4-year-old Marchella Pierce in early September.

Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes says given the city's failure to protect another child four years ago, Nixzmary Brown, he's "sufficiently troubled" and wants to find out why Marchella died.

The probe will look at the role played by three entities: the city's Administration for Children's Services, a Brooklyn non-profit partially responsible for monitoring Marchella and the hospital that released the child into her mother's care.

On Tuesday, ACS Commissioner John Mattingly admitted caseworkers failed to visit Marchella's family as required. He also said the agency neglected to act when it was clear her mother continued to use drugs.

According to an ACS review of the case, the sickly girl needed a tracheal tube for breathing, was seriously underweight, often tied down for long periods of time and was hit with a video tape box.   

ACS says it will cooperate fully with the investigation but had no other comment. Prosecutors are already investigating the child's mother, Carlotta Brett-Pierce, who is facing assault charges. The medical examiner still has not determined the cause of the child's death and more serious charges could come.


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Comments [1]

Richard Wexler from Alexandria VA

Well Mr. Hynes got his headline; his chance to bask in the glow of contrived righteous indignation over the worst kind of tragedy. In the process he guarantees more such tragedies.

If caseworkers weren’t already terrified of what ACS itself might do, now they know that they face possible criminal prosecution if they screw up and leave a child in a dangerous home. But they can take thousands of children needlessly from everyone they know and love, consign them to the chaos of foster care (and the high risk of abuse in foster care itself) bounce them from foster home to foster home and expel them years later, unable to love or trust anyone, and while the child’s life has been destroyed, the *caseworker* is safe.

So of course caseworkers will behave rationally, and take-the-child-and-run – leading to another explosion in removals of children, even as children continue to suffer from the surge in removals following Nixzmary Brown’s death. Details are on our child welfare Blog here:

Thanks a lot, Mr. Hynes.

Richard Wexler
Executive Director
National Coalition for Child Protection Reform

Oct. 08 2010 10:20 PM

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