Promoting and protecting the health and safety of all Idahoans

This site contains information about:

Children's Residential Care Facilities

Therapeutic Outdoor (Wilderness) Programs

Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities

Adoption/Foster Care Agencies 

3232 Elder St.
Boise, ID 83705
phone - 208.364.1900
fax - 208.287.1164

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Purpose & Licensing FAQs

The purpose of licensing is to assure that children receive adequate substitute parental care and protection when parents, for any reason have relinquished their children's care to others.

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Children’s Agencies:  A person who operates a business for the placement of children in foster homes, children's residential care facilities or for adoption in a permanent home and who does not provide child care as part of that business. A children’s agency does not include a licensed attorney or physician assisting or providing natural and adoptive parents with legal services or medical services necessary to initiate and complete adoptive placements.

Children's Camp. A program of child care at a location away from the child’s home, which is primarily recreational and includes the overnight accommodation of the child and is not intended to provide treatment, therapy or rehabilitation for the child. A children’s camp which only provides child care for any one (1) child for less than nine (9) consecutive weeks in any one (1) year period is exempt from the licensure and disclosure provisions of this chapter. A children’s camp which provides child care for any one (1) child for more than nine (9) consecutive weeks in any one (1) year period constitutes a children’s residential care facility.

Children's Residential Care Facility. A facility that provides residential child care, excluding foster homes, residential schools, juvenile detention centers and children's camps that: a. Seeks, receives or enrolls children for treatment of special needs such as substance abuse, mental illness, emotional disturbance, developmental disability, mental retardation, or children who have been identified by the judicial system as requiring treatment, therapy, rehabilitation or supervision; b. Receives payment, including payment from health insurance carriers, for identified treatment needs such as substance abuse, mental illness, emotional disturbance, developmental disability or mental retardation; or c. Represents to the payor of the child care services provided by the children’s facility that such payment may qualify for health insurance reimbursement by the payor’s carrier or may qualify for tax benefits relating to medical services; and d. May include a children's therapeutic outdoor program whether or not that program operates out of a standard facility.

Children's Therapeutic Outdoor Program. A program which is designed to provide behavioral, substance abuse, or mental health services to minors in an outdoor setting and serves either adjudicated or non-adjudicated youth. Children’s Therapeutic Outdoor programs do not include outdoor programs for minors that are primarily designed to be educational or recreational that may include Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H and other youth organizations.

Alcohol-Drug Abuse Treatment Facility. A children’s residential care facility specializing in providing programs of treatment for children whose primary problem is alcohol or drug abuse, licensed according to IDAPA 16.06.02. Contact the Department's Division of Licensing and Certification for more information. 

Non-accredited Residential School. A residential school for any number of children that is not certified or accredited pursuant to Section 39-1207, Idaho Code, or has lost accreditation and is subject to the jurisdiction of the Department as a children’s residential care facility pursuant to Section 39-1210, Idaho Code, unless and until accreditation is certified by the Idaho Department of Education.

The Application Process starts with a review of the IDAPA Child Care Licensing Rules 16.06.02 accessed by clicking on the link; IDAPA Child Care Licensing Rules After reviewing the rules, applicants are required to request an Orientation.  The Orientation will explain in detail the application and licensing process.  Request an Orientation by clicking on the Licensing Contact Information link.


To find out if an organization is licensed, click Licensed Facilities and you will be directed to a list of licensed organizations. The list contains the name of the organization, the city in which it is licensed, the capacity, age limits and whether the organization serves boys or girls.

Parents can expect that organizations that are licensed meet all licensing requirements as listed in IDAPA 16.06.02. All employees of licensed organizations must meet certain training, background check, experience and education requirements. In addition, facilities and outdoor programs must meet nutrition, building safety, fire safety, vehicle safety standards as set forth in IDAPA 16.06.02.

While licensing assures basic protections for children in care, it is recommended that parents visit facilities prior to placing their children. Facilities vary greatly in size, services, location and personality. 

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