City’s worst child-abuse cases hit record high

Twenty years after it was created to tackle the city’s most heinous child-abuse cases, the ACS’s Instant Response Team is busier than ever, investigating a record number of high-risk cases in its most recent year of data.

Between July 2017 and June 2018, the IRT probed 5,792 cases, including 104 involving the deaths of children under 18, and thousands more covering young victims of sexual or severe physical abuse, according to the Administration for Children’s Services.

The 5,792 cases — a little less than one-tenth of the ACS’s total annual caseload — represent an all-time high and a 10.4 percent increase from the previous year for the IRT.

Since its founding in 1998, the IRT sought to give special attention to the cases of the ACS’s most vulnerable wards through tight interagency cooperation, including with the NYPD and district attorneys’ offices, ACS Commissioner David Hansell told The Post.

“In many cases, the investigations that we’re doing from a child-welfare perspective also involve criminal investigations, and so it’s critical that when we’re investigating serious physical abuse, sexual abuse, the most concerning reports that we get, that we do it hand-in-hand with the NYPD,” Hansell said.

ACS leadership attributes the rising number of cases it investigates not to increased violence but to factors including greater awareness of signs of abuse.

“A piece of that is also historically when there are major cases in the news . . . that person that might let that black eye go because Mom says the kid tripped may not [let it go] this time,” said IRT co-head Susan Morley, a retired cop who once led the NYPD’s Special Victims Division.

Hansell added that gradually growing public confidence in the long-beleaguered system has also played a role, while acknowledging that the ACS still has work to do to shore up its oft-criticized system.

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