Trump’s Pick to Lead Child Welfare Cleared for Confirmation

Child Welfare
Lynn Johnson, Trump’s nominee to lead the Administration for Children and Families, previously served as executive director of the Jefferson County Department of Human Services in Colorado.

The nomination of Lynn Johnson, the Trump administration’s choice to lead the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), was approved by the Senate Finance Committee on a party-line vote held before the July 4 holiday.

Johnson is now cleared for a confirmation vote by the full Senate. She was nominated to lead ACF in June of 2017.

The committee vote on Johnson was 16 to 11, with all but two Democrats voting against her. At Johnson’s confirmation hearing in March, ranking Democrat Ron Wyden (Ore.) said he would not support her nomination until the Trump administration set a timeline for new data collection on foster care and adoption.

ACF is currently planning to delay the collection of new data on foster youth and families until fiscal 2022, and is also reconsidering the new rules set up for that process by the Obama administration in December of 2016. The new data includes information about the Indian Child Welfare Act, occurrences of disrupted adoptions, and the sexual orientation of foster youth and foster parents.

The deadline for public comments solicited by the administration ended last month – click here for a summary of the feedback provided on the new rules.

“I need to be clear that your nomination isn’t going forward with my support unless there is a commitment to get this done, with a timeline,” Wyden said, at the March hearing.

Johnson was the executive director of the Jefferson County Department of Human Services in Colorado. The county sits just outside of the Denver area, and its hub is Golden, the headquarters of the Coors Brewing Company.

Johnson came to Jefferson County from the statehouse, where she served as chief of staff to former Lieutenant Gov. Jane Norton. She also served as deputy director for policy and as a human services policy advisor for former Colorado Governor Bill Owens.

ACF is currently led by Acting Assistant Secretary Scott Wagner. It is a division of the Department of Health and Human Services that oversees most federal funding for family services, foster care and adoption, as well as the newly famous Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) program, which has custody over children arriving at the border from Central America to claim asylum. The children separated from their parents at the border last month were also placed into UAC.

If she gets a majority vote in the Senate, Johnson would become the first confirmed head of ACF since Carmen Nazario, President Obama’s first nominee for the job. Nazario was confirmed in 2009 but left the following year to take care of an ailing spouse.

Sens. Claire McCaskill (Mo.) and Michael Bennett (Colo.) were the only Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee who voted for Johnson.

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Kim Phagan-Hansel, Managing Editor, The Chronicle of Social Change
About Kim Phagan-Hansel, Managing Editor, The Chronicle of Social Change 116 Articles
Kim is Managing Editor for The Chronicle of Social Change and Editor of Fostering Families Today magazine. Reach her at