No one in New Jersey, and few people nationwide, have shown as keen an understanding of what's wrong with child welfare, and what needs to be done to fix it, as Kevin Ryan. But the big question to me is: Will he be allowed the time to do the job?

It is easy for agencies that operate in secret like DCF to gain too much power over families. These kinds of checks and balances ensure that DCF will have to do more to justify its decision.

Since they (foster children) never had a parent, they have no place to go.

DCF thinks children are more likely to grow up happy and healthy with their family.

Despite all the good work, they've still got a panic on their hands now. They've got to do more to stop it, for the sake of children's lives.

These are the cases in which intense public scrutiny is focused on child welfare agencies. If those agencies can't even do well by these children, imagine what happens to the hundreds of thousands of children, almost all of them anonymous, taken each year and thrown into foster care.

Most child welfare agencies tend to embrace secrecy because the people who lead them tend to be mediocre and don't want you to see how poor a job they are doing.

It is smart and sensible. It goes to the heart of the key problems Newsday identified in its story Sunday: Coordination, training, and a need for more intensive services. It is impressive that the plan to hire new caseworkers doesn't just include investigators who decide whether to take a child out of a home -- it also bolsters a unit designed to help children safely remain in their homes.