Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio Sunday named a state family services official to head the city's Administration for Children's Services, calling the protection of youths one of government's most crucial roles.
Gladys Carrión, 62, commissioner of the Office of Children and Family Services under Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, has worked her entire career toward "juvenile justice," de Blasio said.
"We consider our children the most precious part of our society, and if we believe government is here to protect people, then there is no higher calling than protecting children," he said at a news conference on the Lower East Side.
The ACS faced scrutiny in the deaths of Nixzmary Brown, 7, in 2006 and Marchella Pierce, 4, in 2010. Both Brooklyn girls were abused and killed by family members while under the agency's watch. De Blasio Sunday said the high-profile child endangerment cases were calls for reform that Carrión can usher in. He acknowledged strides made in child welfare under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but emphasized the need for further improvements, particularly in preventive services.
De Blasio, who takes office Jan. 1, announced Carrión's appointment at the Henry Street Settlement, founded in 1893 to provide services to poor children and families in nearby tenements.
"The bottom line is there is no greater responsibility, nothing more sacred than protecting the lives of children," Carrión said.
The Bronx native has worked in positions with Bronx Legal Services, Inwood House, which is a youth organization, and United Way. She was commissioner of the city's Community Development Agency in the David Dinkins administration, where she met de Blasio.
The mayor-elect was asked Sunday whether he would consider appointing Republicans to his administration, in light of his vow to build a diverse team.
"Let's not get crazy about this diversity idea," the Democrat responded to prolonged laughter from the audience.
He pointed out that members of his team have worked for Democratic mayors Ed Koch and Dinkins, as well as Republican and independent mayors Rudy Giuliani and Bloomberg, and said that he would consider Republicans if they share his values.
"That might be a high bar for some Republicans," he said.
Asked for his thoughts on Bloomberg's legacy, de Blasio said "history will smile on him" for gains in sustainability, public health and education, but he derided a "core problem" of Bloomberg's 12-year tenure.
"He did not address inequality; he looked away from it," de Blasio said.
Bloomberg spokesman Marc La Vorgna declined to comment.