From DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: Art and expressions help show the value of kinship care for Idahoans

September 15, 2023
DHW Director Dave Jeppesen

I was honored last Saturday, Sept. 9, to join some of Idaho’s kinship families and DHW staff in Boise to celebrate Idaho Kinship  Day, which recognizes families in which relatives or adults with significant relationships with a child takes on the responsibility of parenting when parents are unable to.

The Kinship Day events DHW hosted in Boise, Pocatello, and Coeur d’Alene were hosted in outdoor parks and included story walks, each featuring artwork and expressions submitted as part of My Family. My Story., an art and expression series DHW has sponsored annually since 2011.

The intent of My Family. My Story. is to help children, youth, and kinship caregivers express and feel connected to others in kinship care, and to celebrate and honor the contributions of kinship caregivers.  It is also an opportunity to celebrate our partners who walk alongside kinship families in their journey.

Walking among the art and expressions in Boise was a moving experience. Through drawings, photography, poetry, and essays, kinship caregivers, children, and partners who submitted entries to My Family. My Story. helped illustrate the important contributions kinship care makes for Idahoans.

One kinship grandparent described how proud of and amazed they are by their grandson, and even though they hadn’t pictured their lives raising him they wouldn’t want it any other way. They talked about how much hope and excitement they have for his future. 

One young person in kinship care described her earlier years of turmoil and homelessness, and how when she went to live with her aunt and uncle it was the best day of her life.

Some additional examples from this and previous years include:

  • Children expressing feelings of safety and security
  • Children expressing love for their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other family members
  • Children describing the feeling of broken dreams followed by restored hope
  • A grandmother expressing her journey as a kinship caregiver by creating a photo quilt

In addition to the My Family. My Story. story walks, the Kinship Day events also included presentations from DHW staff, a reading of a Kinship Day proclamation signed by Idaho Gov. Brad Little, celebrations of kinship champions, and resources and information from DHW and community partners.

Though there are many kinship caregivers in Idaho, the majority aren’t aware of assistance that’s available to them. There is a list of resources available on the Idaho 2-1-1 Careline: Kinship and Caregiving. Resources include financial, legal, kinship navigation, support, respite and educational information. If you are a kinship caregiver, please take a look, and if you know a kinship caregiver, please pass along this information about the resources available to help them in their labor of love.

For more information on resources and supports available to kinship caregivers and children, visit the DHW website at

I’d like to offer a special thanks to Idaho’s kinship families for making a difference in Idaho, and to DHW staff for helping to recognize the efforts of Idaho’s kinship families.

I’d also like to recognize our community partners who attended and provided information to families, including: Area Agency on Aging, Boise Community Schools, Boise Urban Garden School (BUGZ), Casey Family Programs, Family Caregiver Navigator Project, Idaho Relatives As Parents (IRAP), Friends of Children and Families, Inc., Head Start & Early Head Start, Morrison Knudsen Nature Center, Idaho Botanical Gardens, and The Wardrobe.

I hope you have a safe and healthy weekend! 

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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