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.