lynn johnson acf assistant secretary

Lynn Johnson, assistant secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families

A Trump administration official visiting a Bakersfield church Sunday challenged faith communities to find permanent homes for young people struggling in the foster care system.

The request by Lynn Johnson, assistant secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families, came as she and local politicians called for increasing the role churches play in helping repair societal disconnections she said have given rise to abuse, neglect and homelessness.

She warned it's not easy to take in a teenager who has been in the foster care system. But the United States can reduce the size of its welfare system, she said, if more church families are able to help find "forever homes" for a population of young people she estimated at 125,000.

"We need your help," she said. "Step up, wrap around them and pray hard."

Johnson was part of a panel that convened at Canyon Hills' 11 a.m. worship service to discuss ways churches can work with government, corporations and nonprofits to address societal problems. Panelists included Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh and state Sen. Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield.

In a separate room after the service, Johnson spoke to reporters briefly, complimenting the church's various ministries and saying the congregation is walking its talk and "making things happen."

If more churches follow Canyon Hills' example, she said, and if members of the faith community engage with corporations, nonprofits and government, people seeking help will be able to find it. The country as a whole, she said, will make progress fighting hunger, homelessness and aging-related difficulties.

She repeated her call for greater involvement in finding permanent homes for foster youth and then left without taking questions.

The event was organized by CityServe, a network of churches collaborating to overcome what it terms brokenness in the community.

CityServe officials joined Johnson, Goh and Grove after the church service and outlined opportunities for churches to partner with government agencies to help tackle mental health, homelessness and other problems that have become increasingly visible in Bakersfield and other urban places across the country.

Grove took the relationship between churches and government a step further by encouraging members of Canyon Hills to become more personally involved in government and politics.

She said churches have a "natural ground game" and networking system that makes them effective players in politics.

"The body of Christ has an obligation to participate in the civic arena," she said.

John Cox can be reached at 661-395-7404. Follow him on Twitter: @TheThirdGraf.

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(8) comments

RubySue

It is so hard for me to understand why there are so many unwanted children when there is no reason to become pregnant unless you want to. Birth control is 100% effective now, and there are so many options, that there is no excuse not to be using one of them.

Vavoom

inferring that church huggers and bible thumpers are good sources is just abusive...churches are another form of business, a non profit business. the bet fostering situation is one that is voluntary and unconditionally motivated

RubySue

Inferring that foster care is unconditionally motivated is a non profit business is just ridiculous.

2carpoor

Come in, tell us what to do and leave town. I bet she got paid a bundle. Where's Kevin? Gathering candy for his beloved leader for the next weeks sessions? Besides the destruction of the National Parks, Forests and the elimination of the EPA and FDA, what else does he have to do? He should be here.

Masked 2020

its all about the money ......."forever homes"...I thought that was for dogs and cats at the pound....... "can reduce the size of its welfare system"..... who gave this person her talking points......the lack of sensitivity is just so Steven Millerish.........

Lamonster

"Forever homes", AKA adoption, is infinitely better than having a child passed from one foster home to another until his or her 18th birthday and then turned out of the system. And it's interesting, isn't it, how the church is reviled by some when it opposes abortion, ridiculed and taunted with challenges like, "If you want them to be born then you take them". Until the church tries to do something positive like this and then it's "separation of church and state" or "it's all about the money" or "we don't want religion in the system". Well, at least there is consistency in the hate if not in the stance.

FAIRGROUND61

Very good idea... MOST CONSERVATIVE people want Birth control n other forms of Conception control banned and everyone wants people to Have babies that they otherwise may not want for. Many reasons... Insist that Faith Based people take more and raise these unwanted children. I'm all for it...

Moardeeb

Wait a minute. Dont we have separation of church and State in this country? A Federal official taking an official position in this manner is pushing it.

It doesnt take a religious person to raise a foster child. I wouldn't want Mike Pence anywhere around my child for sure.

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