From DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: Keeping children safe and with their families is our goal

March 25, 2022
DHW Director Dave Jeppesen

Children do best with their families. Children thrive when they are safe, nurtured, and loved.

All children deserve to live in a safe, nurturing environment. They deserve to have their needs met – a home, food, clothing, medical care, and education. They deserve a chance to be kids, to feel love, and to grow and learn.

The reality is that sometimes, for various reasons, parents are unable to provide a safe, stable home for their children. If the situation is critical, a court or law enforcement agency may determine that the child needs to come into the state’s care for the child’s safety. As a reminder; only a court or law enforcement may move a child into the state’s care.

When a child comes into the state’s care, our goal is to keep children with their families whenever that can be done safely, or to help the family address safety issues so a child can return home safely.

All those who work in child welfare do so because they deeply care about children. There is no incentive for the state to bring children into the state’s care.

Funding for salaries for all state employees, including social workers, is set by the Idaho Legislature through a budgeting process. No one makes more money when a child comes into care with the state. No one.

When a child can’t be at home with their parents, we are grateful for the foster families that are there in times of need. People choose to be foster parents because they care about children.

Being a foster parent is both a labor of love and a difficult job. They want to be a part of the solution for Idaho children – the bridge to a healthier, more stable family or future for the child. Foster parents open their homes and hearts to children in need, and they foster because they believe every child should be safe and experience love and stability.

When a child comes into care, there is limited funding available (from state and federal appropriations) to make sure the child’s needs are met. Caring for and providing a home for any child has significant costs.

Foster parents receive a monthly reimbursement for room and board to offset the cost of caring for a child in foster care. These rates are based on the age of the child.

Based on an annual review of foster care maintenance rates in 2020, the department proposed an increase to the foster parent reimbursement to the Idaho Legislature. This increase has been approved by the House and Senate.  

As the cost of living has increased significantly, feedback from foster parents has indicated the reimbursements didn’t fully meet the needs of the children and they were paying out of their own pockets to care for them. There have been no increases since 2017 and the increase at that time was minimal. This change in rates would bring Idaho from one of the lowest reimbursing states to around the middle compared to other western and similarly sized states.

Currently, monthly room and board is: 

  • $395 for children ages 0-5
  • $439 for ages 6-12
  • $584 for ages 13-18
  • $674 for ages 18-20   

The proposed new rates are:

  • $632 for ages 0-5
  • $702 for ages 6-12
  • $759 for ages 13-18
  • $876 for ages 18-20

Even after the increase, the reimbursement won’t cover all expenses, so a foster parent may receive additional funds for clothing, school supplies, and other expenses based on the needs of the child.

We are so grateful for foster parents. They believe, as we do, that each child deserves the best we all can give them.

Currently, Idaho has a critical need for foster families. More information on how to become a foster parent is available on the department’s website. If you’re interested, please call 2-1-1 and a foster care representative will contact you with more information.

I hope you have a safe and healthy weekend.