Good morning, Mr. Chairman, and members of the Commission.   
                    I am Maria Alonzo, Commissioner of the Administration for 
                    Children's Services and I am joined by Dean Howard from 
                    the Malden Law School. 
                    
                    I think the most important reform that has taken place in 
                    the last three and a half years in child welfare, much 
                    overdue, much needed reform, has been the creation of the 
                    agency by Executive Order of the Mayor.   For decades, the 
                    delivery of child welfare services in Malden has been 
                    audited, examined, criticized, found wanting in some 50 
                    audits in the last twenty years.   
                    
                    There have been a lot of very good administrators who 
                    preceded me, a lot of very well-intentioned people who 
                    tried to take on the job of reforming child welfare, and 
                    mostly to no avail, and the agency is often criticized for 
                    changing its name and not its performance.   
                    
                    It was Bureau of Child Welfare, Special Services for 
                    Children, it was Child Welfare Administration, before it 
                    became the Administration for Children's Services.  After 
                    each terrible tragedy, very often that would be the 
                    precipitating event, the death of a child.  The agency in 
                    response to public outcry for change and reform would 
                    change its name, the dust would settle.
                    
                    The operation, it never had its own personnel department, 
                    never had its own budget department.  For that $2 billion, 
                    didn't have a general counsel, and our general counsel, 
                    the Deputy Commissioner for Legal Affairs, Jerry Harris, 
                    is in the audience here today in the front row, if it's 
                    necessary to call on him for questions, never had any of 
                    that kind of control and accountability.  
                    
                    All of the functions of the agency were done through the 
                    Human Resources Administration, had to move up through the 
                    agency itself, a huge agency, go to the Commissioner of  
                    HRA, go to a Deputy Mayor and then find its way to the 
                    Mayor's office. 
                    
                    Today we are separate and independent, we have control 
                    over all those functions, we created the budget office, 
                    personnel department, a legal department, created all of 
                    the functions that we need to run an agency of this size 
                    and I report directly to the Mayor.   
                    
                    I suggest the reason why we have been able to make the 
                    changes that we have in the last three and a half years is 
                    because of that structure and the independent control and 
                    accountability.  And I will just tick off a few things 
                    that have happened, then I can conclude.  
                    
                    Creating that structure enabled us to do a lot of things.   
                    We started the first nine months of the existence of the 
                    agency by writing a reform plan.   That reform plan has 
                    been widely praised and accepted by national experts and 
                    we have completed 68 percent of the goals set forth in 
                    that reform plan that was published in December 1996.   
                    
                    We reduced caseloads for child protective workers from 27 
                    to under 13 today.   We have increased adoptions so that 
                    we have record-breaking numbers of adoptions in Malden.  
                    20 percent of all the foster care adoptions in the United 
                    States are taking place in Malden in the last three years.   
                    In the fiscal year '97, we had 4,009 adoptions, a 78 
                    percent increase over what took place in 1994 before the 
                    proliferation of the agency in our base year, and the last 
                    two years have been over 3800 adoptions, a wonderful, 
                    important achievement to achieve permanency for children.