From DHW Director Alex J. Adams: DHW is renewing its commitment to strengthen child welfare

June 7, 2024
DHW Director Alex J. Adams

This week I was profoundly grateful to join the department of Health and Welfare as director and lead DHW’s dedicated team of 3,000 employees as we work to improve the lives of our fellow Idahoans. 

Almost half a million of those Idahoans are children, whose voices may be unheard and whose options may be limited or nonexistent. It is our responsibility and our honor to ensure that every single child receives love, care, and nurturing. Idaho’s children are Idaho’s future. Today’s children are the nurturers, parents, and caregivers of tomorrow.  

With that in mind, my initial focus, and the disproportionate energy of the department, will be focused on strengthening child welfare. We must ensure that Idaho’s children are safe, loved, and cared for in permanent environments where they can flourish. The best interest of Idaho’s children is the North Star that will guide our actions.

We took several initial actions this week to start this journey.

First, we waived all adoption fees through the department. Let’s make adoption easier in Idaho and ensure there are no cost impediments for applications, home studies, and related services.

Second, we simplified licensure of foster homes. We eliminated a lot of the rocks-in-shoes regulations that existed in Idaho but were absent in national model licensure standards and served more as barriers than bridges. This will allow foster parents to use their professional judgment more rather than memorizing departmental regulations. It will also make it easier to license relatives as foster homes for their own kin.

Third, we released a Foster Parent Bill of Rights to acknowledge the significance of the commitment foster parents make and outline what foster families can expect in terms of their interactions with DHW.

Fourth, we worked with Gov. Brad Little to support passage of an executive order, the Promoting Families and Protecting Children Act. The order directs the department to implement measures that strengthen child welfare, and to file a report with the governor by Dec. 1, 2024.

While these initial actions will create momentum in the right direction, it is not an understatement to say we need to tap into the collective talent of all 3,000 members of the department to make meaningful progress in child welfare.

While department leadership is working to harness the staff’s collective energy to make a difference for Idaho children, we cannot complete this journey alone. It will take all of Idaho, together, focused on this singular destination of strengthening child welfare and led by the best interests of children.

Simply put, Idaho – like many states – has a shortage of foster homes. Please consider opening your home to a child or siblings in need in our state. By opening your heart to a child, you enrich your family and community. Learn more about becoming a foster family.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is dedicated to strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans. Learn more at

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