From DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: If you have room in your heart for children who need extra support, please consider becoming a treatment foster parent

February 17, 2023
DHW Director Dave Jeppesen

When children are not safe in their own homes, they are often placed with a foster family. Some of those children require more care and can’t be placed in a typical foster home. Based on their needs, they require placement with a treatment foster family.  

Idaho doesn’t have nearly enough treatment foster homes for the children who need that critical support. Some youths are being cared for in short-term rentals because a treatment foster family is not available. Youth are also being placed in residential treatment facilities when they are better served in that setting. The number of youths in short-term rentals varies on any given day, but on average there are 10 children waiting for placement, many of whom would qualify for treatment foster care. 

The department works with agencies in local communities to recruit and train treatment foster families. Agencies have been recruiting families for the past year and have not been successful in licensing any treatment foster care families in southern Idaho, specifically. At least 30 families are needed in southern Idaho to meet the needs of these children.  

Children in treatment foster care, generally ages 10-17, have been assessed as having a serious emotional  disturbance, which means they have a diagnosable mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder that limits the child’s ability to function in family, school, or community activities. They may have challenging behaviors and need additional supervision and participation in community services, but they also need a stable and loving family who can support them as they learn positive behaviors.  

These children typically have feelings of neglect or abandonment; have experienced multiple foster care placements, or have bounced from group homes to residential treatment facilities and back to foster homes with parents who lack the knowledge and training and support team to provide care and services to meet their high level of needs.  

Although the work is challenging, treatment foster families can develop a lifelong relationship with the child and their family. Treatment foster families are instrumental in helping youths learn to manage their behaviors and helping parents support their children who have a traumatic history and/or mental health needs.  

If you are an experienced foster parent or have experience with mental healthcare, behavior management, or treatment planning, and have room in your heart and your home for a child that needs a little more, please consider becoming a qualified treatment foster home.  

The department works with two agencies to recruit, train, and support treatment foster families. Please contact them if you are in southern Idaho and can help.  

Pathways of Idaho 

Rise, Inc. 

I hope you have a safe and healthy weekend. As a reminder, our offices will be closed on Monday in honor of President’s Day.    

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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