Dedicated to strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans.
The department's programs and services are designed to help people live their best lives. From birth throughout life, we help people improve their lives.
We deal with complex social, economic, and health issues. We receive requests every day for assistance with food or medical insurance. We help others with child care, child support, and substance abuse problems. Throughout the state, we are at the forefront of protecting public health.
We help people help themselves. Our goal is to help people become self-reliant, working with them to identify issues and solutions to their problems so they won't need future assistance from us.
Idaho's health and human services are a partnership. We team with other agencies and human service providers to meet the needs in each community. Working together, we can build a better Idaho.
Visit the Newsroom section of our site for the latest news releases from the Department of Health and Welfare
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. The department 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 Gov. Brad Little. DHW Director Dave Jeppesen 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 the department 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 the department’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
The department has eight divisions:
|Behavioral Health||Ross Edmunds|
|Public Health||Elke Shaw-Tulloch|
|Family and Community Services||Miren Unsworth|
|Management Services||Brad McDonald|
|Licensing and Certification||Tamara Prisock|
|Information and Technology Services||Andrew Masters|
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, the department’s organizational structure includes Human Resources and the Office of Communications.
Psychiatric Hospitals and SWITC
DHW administers the state’s two psychiatric hospitals, State Hospital North and State Hospital South, for people who have been court-ordered into the state’s custody. A new adolescent psychiatric treatment hospital, State Hospital West, is expected to open in February 2021 in Nampa.
DHW also administers the Southwest Idaho Treatment Center (SWITC), which serves individuals with complex and challenging behaviors.
Locations and Authorized Positions
The department operates in 52 locations, of which 19 are publicly accessible throughout the state. In addition to field and administrative offices, the department also operates five visitation and counseling offices, four state institutions, the state lab and the emergency communications center. There are 2,972 authorized full-time employees in Fiscal Year 2021.