Manhattan Shelter Filed 1,600 Reports Of Missing Children In 13 Months

September 15, 2014 | Sophie Weiner

A single facility in Kips Bay run by New York’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) has reported 1,600 children disappearances over the course of 13 months reports DNAinfo. They may have been trying to escape what has been described as a “cramped and chaotic environment plagued by bullying and theft” at the 55-bed Nicholas Scoppetta Children’s Center. Many of them were arrested by the NYPD and returned to the shelter.

From February 2013 to March 2014, the agency filed 1,583 missing reports with the NYPD for kids who ran away from their Children’s Center at 492 First Ave. near East 29th Street — roughly four a day, according to records obtained by DNAinfo through a Freedom of Information Law request.

In one case, a 17-year-old boy was reported missing at least 50 times in a five-month period, sometimes twice a day, according to the records. A number of the other children disappeared multiple times as well, so it was not clear how many individual children vanished in all.

More than 70 of the reports were for children just 12 or 13 years old. Dozens of the missing kids were coping with medical conditions including asthma, bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia when they disappeared, according to the reports.

The ACS is not allowed to prevent children from leaving their facility unless they have a mental of physical illness. Neither ACS nor NYPD officials would confirm how many of the disappeared children have returned.

Several people have described poor conditions in the center, where children are sometimes kept 12 or 15 to a bedroom and lights are left on all night. Though it is intended as an intermediary shelter for children to stay for short periods, older children may end up there for months if they can not find a foster home. (Photo: Eden, Janine and Jim)