Our Mission

Dedicated to strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans.

Message from Interim Director Dean Cameron

The Department of Health and Welfare’s work helps Idahoans help themselves. Our goal is to help people become self-reliant, working with them to identify solutions to their problems so they won’t need future assistance from us.

The department deals with complex social, economic, and health issues. We receive requests every day for assistance with food or medical insurance. We help Idahoans with childcare, child support, and substance abuse problems. DHW is at the forefront of protecting public health.

Idaho’s health and human services are also a partnership. DHW teams with other agencies and human service providers to meet needs in all communities. Working together, we can build a better Idaho.

Visit the Newsroom on DHW’s website for news releases or the DHW Voice blog for current program information and messages from the director.

Interim Director Dean Cameron profile photo in grayscale
Interim Director Dean Cameron
2021 Annual Report Cover
2021 Annual Report
Agency overview

Role in the Community

The Department of Health and Welfare’s (DHW) primary role in the community is to provide services and oversight to promote healthy people, safe children, and stable families. DHW accomplishes this through several core functions, including:

  • Administering state and federal public assistance and health coverage programs, which includes Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps) and Medicaid
  • Providing direct-care services for certain disadvantaged or underserved populations
  • Protecting children and vulnerable adults
  • Licensing various types of care facilities
  • Promoting healthy lifestyles 
  • Identifying and reducing public health risks


DHW serves under the leadership of Idaho Governor Brad Little. DHW Director Dean Cameron oversees all department operations and is advised by the Idaho Board of Health and Welfare. The board consists of seven voting members appointed by the governor as well as the chairmen of House and Senate Health and Welfare legislative committees. The DHW director serves as the secretary.


Idaho is a leader in the integration of service delivery for health and human services. In some states, health and human services is divided into several departments with separate administrations. Idaho is fortunate to have these services under one umbrella with a single administration. This is not only cost-effective, it allows DHW to more effectively coordinate services for struggling families, so they can achieve self-sufficiency without government support. The director has three deputy directors to assist in managing DHW’s business. A deputy is responsible for the oversight and coordination of one of three areas:

  • Family and Welfare Services
  • Medicaid, Behavioral Health and Public Health
  • Support Services/Licensing and Certification

DHW has eight divisions:

MedicaidJuliet Charron
Behavioral HealthRoss Edmunds
Public HealthElke Shaw-Tulloch
Family and Community ServicesMiren Unsworth 
WelfareShane Leach
Management ServicesStaci Phelan
Licensing and CertificationLaura Stute
Information and Technology ServicesChuck Weber


Each division contains individual bureaus and programs that provide services to help people in communities. For example, the Division of Family and Community Services provides direct services for child protection. It also contracts with community partners to assist people with developmental disabilities. These community services augment the services provided through Medicaid. In addition to the eight divisions, DHW’s organizational structure includes Human Resources and the Office of Communications.

View the current DHW organization chart. 

Psychiatric Hospitals and treatment center

DHW administers the state’s three psychiatric hospitals, State Hospital North, State Hospital South, and State Hospital West. State Hospital North and South provide treatment for people who have been court-ordered into the state’s custody. State Hospital West provides treatment for adolescents, ages 11-18. 

DHW also administers the Southwest Idaho Treatment Center (SWITC), which serves individuals with complex and challenging behaviors.

Locations and Authorized Positions

DHW operates in 38 locations, of which 32 are publicly accessible throughout the state. In addition to field and administrative offices, DHW also operates visitation and counseling offices, state institutions, the state laboratory, and the Emergency Communications Center. There are 2,996 authorized full-time employees in Fiscal Year 2024.