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Couple with 10 kids joins adoption/foster care reform

[SLIDESHOW=48675]FRANKFORT, Ky. (BP) — A former Florida pastor and his wife have been named by Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin to help implement reforms to the state’s adoption and foster care system under legislation approved by the 2018 General Assembly.

Chris and Alicia Johnson will work closely with the Department for Community Based Services, part of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, to support the department’s ongoing adoption and foster care initiatives, including the transformative efforts required under House Bill 1. See related Baptist Press story.

The Johnsons also will work as special advisers to the Governor’s Office of Faith and Community Based Initiatives to advance strategic partnerships with the faith community.

They are the parents of 10 children, ranging in age from 24 to 8. Three of their children are biological and seven children are adopted from the foster care system. Altogether, the Johnsons have fostered more than 40 children in their home, welcoming medically frail children, sibling groups and children who were close to aging out of the foster care system.

“The Johnsons’ commitment to foster care and adoption reform perfectly align with the work we are doing here in Kentucky to transform our child welfare system,” first lady Glenna Bevin said. “Their experience as foster parents, coupled with their advocacy work within the faith-based community, has led to a unique understanding of the challenges that exist for foster and adoptive families. I know that they will bring their extensive knowledge to bear in their new positions.”

Chris Johnson is the former lead pastor of Liberty Baptist Church in Clermont, Fla., serving the congregation for more than 11 years, while Alicia Johnson has been active in numerous Florida community-based child welfare agencies.

They began the church’s orphan care ministry, where they connected prospective foster and adoptive parents with child welfare agencies. As adoption and foster care advocates, the Johnsons travel throughout the country on behalf of adoption and foster care nonprofits, speaking at churches, community groups, and conferences about the importance of recruiting, training and supporting committed foster parents.

“I am thrilled to have Chris and Alicia Johnson join us and bring their perspectives as foster and adoptive parents to our child welfare transformation efforts,” DCBS Commissioner Eric Clark said.

“They have spent more than a decade in Florida working to improve the lives of children there, and will now share their experiences with our department, foster families, faith and community partners, and frontline staff, as we all work together toward making Kentucky the best system of care for kids in the country.”