On Wednesday, February 24, 2021, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the National Review Institute hosted Lynn Johnson in her first public conversation since leaving Washington. Lynn Johnson served as the Assistant Secretary at HHS’s Administration for Children and Families and discussed a wide array of topics, including extensive paperwork inhibiting agency effectiveness, lack of communication among federal agencies, and vague definitions of neglect. However, Johnson emphasized the significance of faith-based agencies and her advice for the current administration.


Johnson highlighted the importance of faith-based agencies as supports to foster and adoptive families and their children. Johnson stated that she served an administration that tried to safeguard faith-based agencies’ essential role as supports. She reported that “moving faith groups forward” produced encouraging results, reporting “states that [had] used their faith groups had more adoptions in the last two years.” In a hearing before her confirmation, Johnson established her acceptance of secular and faith-based agencies with the underlying goal that children receive their “forever homes”.


Offering advice for the Biden administration, Johnson suggested agencies choose an attainable “focus” and put all efforts towards it, reach the goal, and move forward quickly. Johnson also highlighted the importance of maintaining conversations with children and youth across the nation, stressing the need to listen to their voices. Johnson’s last piece of advice for the Biden administration was to “follow the money”, explaining that “one of the reasons [she] sees less adoptions” is because there is a lack of sufficient funding “for the adoption side of the system”, specifically mentioning CAPTA which she described as “good but not funded well enough.”