Bedbugs Infest Administration for Children's Services Office, Workers Say

By Jill Colvin on October 16, 2012 6:46am 

DOWNTOWN — Fears that bedbugs have infested the NYC Administration for Children's Services offices in lower Manhattan has staffers in a panic.

ACS staff, who spoke anonymously for fear of losing their jobs, said they have been battling the insects on the seventh floor of 66 John St. for more than a month.

During that time, the agency has continued to welcome clients who visit the floor to pick up child care assistance vouchers, staffers said.

"The workers are complaining, but the only option is to stop clients and they cannot do that," said one employee, who said he’d worked for the city for more than a decade and had never before had to deal with a bedbug scare.

“Some people are panicking,” he said, adding that, while he's not nervous, his family's worried he’ll accidentally bring the blood-suckers home.

“It is scary if we have that,” he said, echoing other workers' concerns.

He said the problem was first reported more than a month ago by a building maintenance worker who discovered bites after sitting in the client waiting area on the seventh floor.

The area has been fumigated several times in recent weeks, staffers said, but the problem has persisted.

An ACS spokeswoman denied there was a bedbug infestation.

"The Administration for Children’s Services is aggressively taking steps to address reports of a bedbug sighting and to ensure the health and safety of our employees and the public," she said in a statement.

"An exterminator has visited the site and confirmed there is no bedbug infestation," she said, adding that the sightings were reported in areas that are not used by the general public.

Still, some distressed workers said they felt the city had failed to adequately protect workers and clients from the pests.

“Clients can be contaminated and workers [too],” complained one employee who works for the agency on another floor of the building.

"There's nothing really being done," she said.

Others said they thought the city was doing the best it could.

"We are concerned... but they're doing what they have to," said one worker, who praised the ACS's response.

“The only thing they can do is fumigate, and they have done that,” another said. "I have no complaints."

The building, which is around the corner from ACS's main William Street headquarters, also houses other city agencies, including the Department of Finance and the Department of Consumer Affairs.

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