MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – An official from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families came to West Virginia to sit with West Virginia’s lawmakers to discuss adoption and child welfare system in the state.
The Administration for Children and Families has come up with an “ALL-IN Foster Adoption Challenge” that is led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families Assistant Secretary, Lynn Johnson.
There are nearly 480,000 children in the foster care system throughout the United States. Of the 480,000, 122,000 already have an adoption plan, or their parental rights have been terminated.
“What we decided to do was look at these older kids and say, how do we make sure every one of these children gets adopted,” said Secretary Lynn Johnson.
That led Secretary Johnson to speak with children who have been in the foster care system for 18 years, 52 moves, and in and out of schools. The ACF then began reaching out to faith-based groups, non-profits, and partners to join together to help take care of children. During that time Secretary Johnson met Chestnut Mountain Ranch Director Steve Finn.
“He actually was in Washington, D.C., showed me some of what he was doing,” Secretary Johnson stated. “Hard to believe it could be real until you come here and see it, and I knew that he was absolutely right.”
Chestnut Mountain Ranch is a non-profit, faith-based home and school that reach young men who have experienced something traumatic in their lives.
“West Virginia has been doing very good work around child welfare, and we thought West Virginia would be a great place to talk to the legislatures and the governor’s office, the community, and the kids,” Secretary Johnson explained.
“Our goal is to help as many children as time allows, and as God allows,” said Chestnut Mountain Ranch Director Steve Finn. “As long as I have breath in my body were going to chase this.”
Johnson plans to get children adopted throughout the country by looking at all approaches to find people who want to adopt children.
“It’s not always the same adoption agency. It could be a non-profit. It could be a faith-based group,” explained Secretary Johnson.