Fewer and fewer issues today transcend red versus blue political lines. Thankfully, the protection and well-being of children still often does.
Today, President Trump signed an Executive Order designed to strengthen America’s child welfare system. Analysts and advocates are sifting through the details, but the objectives of the order and the high-level directives it carries appear well-calibrated to spur important improvements and needed reforms.
- Expanding partnerships between state agencies and other public, private, faith-based and community organizations;
- Increasing access to needed resources for foster and adoptive parents;
- Boosting oversight from the federal government to ensure that states comply with key requirements – including support for families at risk of disintegration and a timely path to adoption for children in need of a permanent family.
Like others, the CAFO team will be looking more deeply into the specific provisions of the order and watching as it is implemented. But having come to know HHS Assistant Secretary Lynn Johnson over the past two years, I am 100% convinced that she is all-in, heart and soul, to do everything that can be done to help children and families in the US foster system. She has a kind and compassionate spirit and a strong grasp of the vital role that dedicated organizations and caring parents, volunteers, social workers and many others play to care for children and families before, during and after foster care.
I particularly appreciate how Assistant Secretary Johnson holds together two objectives that are often mistakenly perceived to be opposite. Under her leadership, the agency is simultaneously working to reduce entries into foster care through robust family-strengthening efforts … and to reduce the time it takes for a child in need of adoption to find a new family. New entries into foster care are down by nearly 10% over the past several years…even as adoptions out of foster care have risen substantially, reaching a record high last year.
These encouraging results – and the deep personal commitment of Lynn Johnson and her team to the well-being of every child and family – are truly heartening. They remind that, despite the seemingly un-fixable challenges of the foster system, change is possible. We can do better for America’s children. And I am confident that if we can continue to improve the way government plays its role … and if churches across the country step fully into the part we uniquely can play … we can get to “more than enough” for every child in foster to have a loving home by 2025.
If you are interested in learning more on today’s announcement, here is more information on the Executive Order. Meanwhile, here is an article from ABC News, “Trump Signs Order to Strengthen Child Welfare System.”