Trump, Congress Have Yet to Fill Top Jobs at Youth Serving Federal Agencies

According to the Washington Post’s database of executive branch nominees, the Trump administration has either announced or formally nominated 369 people for Senate-confirmed jobs. Of those, 208 have been confirmed.

But Trump has not even put forth a name to lead some of the agencies that oversee most federal spending on youth. In other leadership positions, a name has been put forth but Congress has yet to act. Following are a few of the still-vacant top jobs relevant to youth and family services.

Department of Justice

Agency: Office of Justice Programs (OJP)

Title: Assistant Attorney General

First Obama Nominee: Laurie Robinson, confirmed November 2009

Current Acting Leader: Alan Hanson, former staffer for Sens. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), and Rep. Anne Northup (R-Ky.)

OJP is the central Justice Department entity for research and evaluation, as well as interaction between the feds, state and local law enforcement. Its Bureau of Justice Assistance doles out the much-coveted Byrne Grants, a block of grants to local agencies for everything from crime prevention programs to purchasing new SWAT artillery.

It also oversees the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), the agency that funds state participation in the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), which provides block grants to states in exchange for complying with four core standards. OJJDP is also the funding center for national mentoring funding, and support for services to find and serve missing and exploited children.

OJJDP has seen its budget decimated in recent years, particularly the portion of its funds for supporting JJDPA. Meanwhile, JJDPA is more than a decade overdue for reauthorization; a reauthorization bill has passed both chambers of Congress and currently awaits a conference.

Department of Labor

Agency: Employment and Training Administration (ETA)

Title: Assistant Secretary

First Obama Nominee: Jane Oates

Current Acting Leader: Vacant

ETA’s most visible arm is Job Corps, a billion-dollar employment program for youth and young adults focused on the construction trade. But ETA also presides over the Workforce Investment Opportunity Act, which provides hundreds of millions of dollars each year to regional workforce boards to conduct youth job training and employment programs.

ETA currently has a vacancy at assistant secretary, and at deputy assistant secretary. So the top person appears to be Rosemary Lahaskey, a former staffer at the House Ways and Means Committee who was named ETA’s chief of staff this fall.

Department of Health and Human Services

Agency: Administration for Children and Families (ACF)

Title: Assistant Secretary

First Obama Nominee: Carmen Nazario, who was confirmed in 2009 but left the following year to take care of an ailing spouse.

Current Acting Leader: Steven Wagner, who ran the human trafficking program at Health and Human Services (HHS) during the George W. Bush administration. Wagner was president of QEV Analytics, a public opinion research firm he has owned since 1996.

ACF manages most of the federal funds for child welfare services, including Title IV-E, the entitlement program that mostly reimburses states for foster care costs. ACF also oversees Head Start, runaway and homeless youth programs, and the federal Office of Child Care.

Trump has nominated someone for this job: Lynn Johnson, 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, Colo., 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, who would again be her superior. Norton is currently the director of intergovernmental and external affairs for HHS.

But Johnson has yet to receive a confirmation hearing by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which is the first step before a full vote.

A similarly named agency within ACF – the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families – presides over much of the child welfare funding. It is currently being led on an interim basis by Jerry Milner, a George W. Bush-era ACF staffer who rejoined the agency this summer.

Agency: Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS)

Title: Director

First Obama Nominee: Maria Eitel, a former Nike executive, was nominated in 2009 but withdrew that year citing a previously unknown health condition. Patrick Corvington would be nominated later that year, and serve until 2011.

Current Acting Leader: Kim Mansaray, a career staffer in the federal public service sphere. She has been with CNCS for 17 years, and before that spent nine years with the Peace Corps.

In late November, Trump nominated former JPMorgan Chase Executive Barbara Stewart to head CNCS, which got started under George H.W. Bush and became a formal agency under Bill Clinton. The agency’s largest program is AmeriCorps, a national service learning program that provides a stipend and college assistance to young people.

Stewart and her husband, Peter Bowe, run their own family foundation, which funds efforts to close the opportunity gap in Chicago and Baltimore. Both are consistent Republican donors, though neither appears to have donated to the Trump campaign, according to records on the website Open Secrets.

Youth Services Insider was a bit surprised the administration put forth a name for CNCS. In Trump’s first budget proposal, the agency is all but eliminated.

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John Kelly
About John Kelly 924 Articles
John Kelly is senior editor for The Chronicle of Social Change.

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