Gordon Johnson (child welfare advocate)

Gordon Johnson (Child Welfare Advocate)

Gordon Johnson (child welfare advocate)

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Gordon Johnson is the Founder, President and CEO of Neighbor To Family, Inc., a not-for-profit foster care organization whose mission is keeping siblings together.

Johnson was born in 1933 in Long Branch, New Jersey. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Sociology/Psychology 1958 from Thiel College, Greenville, Pennsylvania, and a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling in 1963 from Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania.


Johnson began his career in 1959 as a cottage officer at New Jersey State Home for Boys and rose through the ranks in child welfare agencies in Pennsylvania, New York and Florida.

In 1979 Johnson was named Deputy Director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services under Director Gregory Coler and Governor Big Jim Thompson. In 1983, Johnson was appointed Director of DCFS, taking over responsibility for programs serving 600,000 children and families, including 50,000 foster children.

Separation of Siblings in Foster Care

During his tenure, Johnson was deeply troubled by the sight of children being taken from their parents because of abuse or neglect, arriving in police cars at a state shelter, dragging their toys and clothes in black garbage bags, and then being further traumatized by being taken away from their brothers and sisters because few foster homes could accommodate sibling groups. In many cases, the separation was permanent as the children were adopted by different families.

Sibling Foster Care......

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