UPDATE Parents Arrested following Death of 8-Year-Old Boy

By SÍLE MOLONEY

Montefiore Medical Center
Photo by Síle Moloney

The parents of an 8-year-old boy from Williamsbridge who died last June have been arrested on murder charges.

Police responded to a call from Montefiore North Hospital emergency room regarding the child, who had been brought to the facility by his mother from his Williamsbridge home, on Tuesday, June 1, at around 2.10 pm

The child was unconscious and unresponsive, with no obvious signs of trauma observed. Joseph Barney, 8, of East 214th Street was pronounced deceased at the hospital.

The medical examiner was due to determine the cause of death. There were no initial arrests, and the investigation continued.

On Monday, March 21, 2022, police confirmed that two individuals were arrested in connection to the incident.

Michael Ransom, 33, of East 166th Street in the Morrisania section of The Bronx was charged with murder, manslaughter and aggravated manslaughter, and Sharay Barney, a 29-year-old woman, also of East 166th Street in Morrisania, was also charged with murder, manslaughter, and aggravated manslaughter.

Norwood News asked the NYPD if the two people arrested were the victim’s parents and they confirmed that they are.

Norwood News previously published an op-ed on the topic of child abuse last year, which included recommended measures to be adopted to address the crisis.

The same month, we reported on the passage in the Assembly of landmark bill (A2375B), led by Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (AD 81), which requires that court-ordered forensic evaluations involving child custody and visitation be carried out by a licensed psychologist, A social worker or psychiatrist who has completed a training program developed by the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

The legislation also tasks the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence to work with the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence to develop the new training program. At the time of the bill’s passage in the Assembly, standards for child custody forensic evaluators varied by county in New York State.

On March 22, New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) announced the nine award recipients which have been selected for the first phase of New York City’s “Family Enrichment Center” (FEC) expansion plan. Launched in 2017, FECs are “warm, home-like, walk-in centers” that are co-designed with local families and community members.

According to officials, families and children can connect with neighbors, volunteer their time, and access resources and supports they feel they need to thrive at the centers. Last year, ACS announced that it would be expanding the FECs from three sites to thirty sites over the next three years. The new centers will be located in hard-hit neighborhoods identified by the City’s Taskforce on Racal Inclusion and Equity (TRIE), based on their equity burdens and the impact of COVID-19. Since then, ACS has been seeking local, community-based providers, with deep ties to their communities, to run the new sites.

On Tuesday, ACS announced that the first nine award recipients selected to run these expansion sites are:

  • The Reggio Emilia Montessori Center in Mott Haven/Melrose
  • Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice in Soundview/Parkchester
  • Little Flower Children’s and Family Services in Bedford Stuyvesant
  • Riseboro Community Partnership in Brownsville
  • Living Redemption Community Development Corporation in Central Harem
  • Union Settlement Association in East Harlem
  • Forestdale in Jamaica/Hollis/Queens Village
  • Ocean Bay Community Development in Rockaway/Broad Channel
  • Fund for the City of New York with the Staten Island Justice Center in George/Stapleton

Norwood News has asked ACS how the locations are decided and if there are any plans for new centers to be opened in the Northwest Bronx.

“When community members come together to support each other, children and families thrive,” said Anne Williams-Isom, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services. “Creating free, inclusive, stigma free spaces where neighbors can deepen connections and build supportive networks is the heart and soul of the Family Enrichment Centers. It’s why so many families have been benefiting from the three existing FECs in Hunts Point/Longwood, Highbridge and East New York. I am thrilled that 9 more communities will have FECs in the coming year, and before long there will be 30 FECs across New York City.”

ACS Commissioner Jess Dannhauser said each NYC neighborhood has a unique strength and vitality. “Family Enrichment Centers build on that foundation by putting in the lead those who know the assets and particular needs of their community best,” she said. “Designed by members of the community, FECs offer families a welcoming place to connect with other families, connect with resources they may need, and access concrete supports—things we all need to thrive and weather difficult moments. We are excited to partner with community organizations to bring this resource to nine more NYC communities. We look forward to fully implementing the FEC expansion plan and we’re confident that it will benefit thousands of families and their children across New York City.”

Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson welcomed the news, saying, “Investment into our communities starts with investing in our youth and families, and expanding on our Family Enrichment Centers will ensure our residents have access to necessary resources close to home.” She added, “I have a great relationship with Circle of Dreams and OUR Place in the Bronx, and these new centers will create even more safe spaces for neighbors and families to connect, and provide a foundation for our youth to thrive. I want to thank Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Isom and Commissioner Jess Dannhauser for their work to make this a reality.”

According to City officials, “FECs are built on trust, positive relationships and making real, the dreams held by community members for their future.” They said they are welcoming, safe, and accessible home-like environments, open to all, where neighbors can connect, contribute and access the information they feel they need.

They said ACS entrusts provider agency staff with co-designing experiences with the community, that help deepen child and family well-being and parental resiliency, build new connections and develop lifelong bonds. Alongside FEC staff, community members may join advisory boards and help to build inclusive FEC experiences that are as unique as the communities in which FECs operate. Members may include individuals whose experiences with community resources or public systems, make them well positioned to support their neighbors.

ACS officials said they are committed to ensuring that community members are equal partners in the design and implementation of FEC offerings. Examples of past and current FEC offerings include: movie nights (for families to meet in a safe space and allow children to make new friends); a therapist-led Healing Through the Arts offering for families recovering from community violence; cultural activities; and Cafe con Amiga (Coffee with Friends) facilitated by Spanish speaking parent leaders to provide support to parents and caregivers. In particular, the FECs proved crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing critical supports to families in need, including food, clothing, and technology, as well as social supports to parents and caregivers.

City officials added that a 2020 evaluation of the FECs by Youth Studies Inc. shows that the first three centers are having a positive impact on families. FEC members reported that the FECs were enhancing their social supports (from family, friends and neighbors), family functioning, emotional connection with their children, and outlook on life. Additionally, those surveyed reported significant increases in their access to advice and resources in addressing several life challenges, including parenting, financial issues, relationships, food and nutrition issues, and stress management.

The report also said that FECs were having a positive effect on members’ access to concrete supports, which can help families better cope with stress, particularly in times of crisis. The existing FECs are: The CRIB in East New York; Circle of Dreams in Highbridge and; OUR Place in Hunts Point/Longwood.

In 2021, ACS released a request for proposals (RFP) for the first phase of expanding the FECs across the City. Today’s announcement includes the first nine awards selected as part of the expansion.

A person arrested and accused of a crime is innocent unless and until convicted in a court of law.