By Anne Williams-Isom and Benita R. Miller, The Imprint, March 22, 2021
Once again, New York City is reeling from the murder of a child. The circumstances around the killing of 10-year-old Ayden Wolfe are eerily familiar – a vulnerable mother, a new partner with a history of violence and the loss of an innocent child. Once again, there is a mad scramble by city officials to evaluate potential loopholes in procedures or failures to follow processes. Neighbors and family are asking themselves what they could have done, what did they miss?
Beyond the makeshift memorials, news conferences and an onslaught of the same interventions, the bottom line remains: Children should have access to comprehensive supports that are easily accessible to their entire family and communities. In light of the pandemic and the reckoning around white supremacy, there is a real opportunity to emerge with a collaborative child welfare system that deals with poverty and family instability, and more importantly, centers on child well-being and looks at children as citizens with rights.
Poverty puts children at risk. When Elisa Izquierdo was killed, the Administration for Children’s Services was created almost 25 years ago. When Myls Dobson was killed, the city established the Children’s Cabinet. When Zymere Perkins was killed, the city and state responded by driving resources toward preventive services and improved state oversight.