Something's rotten in the State of Pennsylvania

While checking up the distribution of adoption agencies in the United States, it occurred to me how disproportionate the number of agencies in Pennsylvania is compared to other states. According to the child welfare information gateway, the state of Pennsylvania houses a whopping 150 agencies, though on further perusal, the Department of Public Welfare of Pennsylvania lists an even higher number of agencies reaching a total of 206 licensed agencies.

The child welfare information gateway, as a public institute can of course not be trusted to maintain accurate data, that would be too much to ask for. Their misinformation is even more astonishing when checking up Illinois, which according to the gateway has 43 agencies, while the Department of Children and Family Services in that state lists 111 agencies (and yes I corrected for duplicate entries in that list). For California their "estimate" is closer, mentioning 126 agencies of a total of 133 licensed by the California Department of Social Services.

But in this post I don't want to address the negligence of a federal agency, but that of the State of Pennsylvania. With a total of 206 Pennsylvania has far more agencies than any other state. California, which is almost three times the size of Pennsylvania has 73 agencies less and Illinois which is very comparable in size to Pennsylvania has about half as many licensed agencies.

Why is Pennsylvania having so many agencies, while they are so completely impotent in checking up on the workings of their agencies? Their adoption laws are so lenient it includes statements as "any individual may become an adopting parent", which apparently includes pedophiles such as Mathew Mancuso. Their application for adoption regulations require three letters of recommendations, not making any more specifications than that. Furthermore Pennsylvanian law does not address the issue of re-adoption in international adoption. On top of that Trish Maskew and Jared Rolsky during the congressional hearings with regards to the Masha Allen case made the following testimony:

MR. STUPAK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for staying with us this afternoon. Can anyone open an adoption agency?

MS. MASKEW. Pretty much, yes.

MR. STUPAK. And there are no requirements, no qualifications?

MS. MASKEW. Well, there are requirements for people to have certain qualifications to hold certain positions.

MR. STUPAK. Okay, but if I want to open one, I can go open one?

MS. MASKEW. Yes, if you were to hire a supervisor or an executive director that has the qualifications that are required by law, then pretty much anybody can be the principle that opens it.

MR. STUPAK. Okay. And Mr. Rolsky, do you want to say anything on that?

MR. ROLSKY. Well, I don’t think it is quite that simple. New Jersey has very specific requirements as to who the staffing has to be.

MR. STUPAK. Right.

MR. ROLSKY. Pennsylvania does not. I mean, it is so variable and that is where the problem is.


MR. ROLSKY. I make jokes sometimes that a plumber can run an agency in Pennsylvania. It cannot happen in New Jersey. I am not holding up New Jersey as the highest paragon, but compared to Pennsylvania--

The congressional hearings took place in September of 2006, so we may assume Pennsylvania has learned from its horrendous history and has decided to reform its atrocity of an adoption system. So with high hopes I started to look for adoption reforms in the State of Pennsylvania and came of with... ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

If Pennsylvania thinks we will forget about the Masha Allen case and can return to business as usual, they are dead wrong. Masha Allen's case shocked the nation and will not be forgotten, We are here to make sure of that.


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