De Blasio Announces Head of Children’s Services

NEW YORK (AP/Hamodia) -

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio on Sunday announced the appointment of a state official who has worked to overhaul the juvenile justice system as the commissioner of the city’s Administration for Children’s Services.

De Blasio announced his choice of Gladys Carrion at a news conference on the Lower East Side. “There’s no higher calling than protecting our children,” he said at Henry Street Settlement, a social services agency.

Carrion most recently has been working as the commissioner for the state Office of Children and Family Services. In that role, she’s pushed a plan that puts juveniles in community programs instead of detention centers.

For eight years as a member of the City Council, de Blasio chaired the General Welfare Committee that had oversight over ACS.

“For me, this is the agency that is charged with some of the most important work that government does. … So this choice, for me, was something very personal and very, very important,” he said.

De Blasio noted that in the past decade or so, several cases of extreme child abuse, plus the fact that more children live in shelters, has forced the ACS to reconsider how “to make sure we’re doing everything we can to protect our children. … And I know that we still persistently, both as a city and as a society, miss opportunities to protect the children and we must do better.”

The mayor-elect said one area that he would like to see bolstered is the cooperation with hospitals to pick up signs of abuse or neglect before it’s too late.

At the press conference, de Blasio was asked about his campaign promise to have an administration that mirrored the city. Out of the half dozen or so appointees, none are Republicans.

“Let’s not get crazy about this diversity idea,” de Blasio joked. He then noted that several of his appointees had served under Republican mayors.

“We actually had, if you look at the transition leadership through all the appointments we’ve made, we actually have people from the Dinkins administration, the Koch administration, the Giuliani administration and Bloomberg administration,” he said. “So I am wonderfully agnostic when it comes to where people serve.”

“I haven’t set a goal around Republican representation,” he said. “…You know what? It’s a free country. We consider Republicans, too. But they have to share our values.”

“That may be a high bar for some Republicans,” he teased.