From DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: Sharing the 'why' child welfare workers choose to support Idaho families

April 15, 2022
DHW Director Dave Jeppesen

In recognition of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, I am continuing my blog series on the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect.

In Idaho, workers in the child welfare program with the Department of Health and Welfare are focused on protecting and supporting children and families who need help. In the child welfare system, child welfare staff play a critical role by protecting children and youth. The children are dealing with situations that are out of their control, and they need care and understanding.

I asked some of our own child welfare staff what it means to them to protect and support the families and children in Idaho, and below are their responses. (These are comments from real employees, but their identities are protected.)

Region 1 Child Welfare employee:

Raising children takes a village, and many parents within our community do not have the “village” they need to be successful. By working with families that are experiencing generational substance use, abuse, and neglect, we are able to create a change that has a ripple effect in the future as well. We are not just helping the children and parents, but also those that will come after them. It is an honor to work with a vulnerable population and help them become stronger and more empowered.

Region 3 Child Welfare licensing worker:

I chose this work because my parents were foster parents for a couple of years when I first started college. My parents decided to only take in teenagers, and we had two teen boys living in our home at that time. It had its ups and downs, but I saw how much these boys needed structure, stability, and love that my family was able to provide them. They ended up adopting one of them when he was 16 and, he is now 21 and he is a starter for a Division 1 football team. (So cool to see the success story for him!) And, we still have contact with the other one as well, he still calls my mom monthly to talk and keep in touch. I chose this work because I have a personal connection with the foster care system and saw how a good family can make a difference in these kid’s lives.

Region 3 Child Welfare case manager

I chose this work because I enjoy helping others. I love seeing the positive change that families and children make. It means a lot to me to help families and children believe in a brighter future and for me to be a part of that. It’s not always easy. Some families and children don’t realize their full potential or take advantage of the resources/opportunities that are available to them. I continue to do my part and hope that they come to the realization that they are worthy and capable!

Region 6 Child Welfare employee

I think I always knew that I wanted to work as a social worker, just wasn’t sure it was child welfare until a guest speaker talked about it in one of my college classes. I work in child welfare to provide hope for youth and families, to provide them with resources, support, and knowledge at a time when youth and families are most vulnerable. I think the work that is done in child welfare is priceless. The services and support provided to families in need or in crisis is life-changing. We have a great team in Idaho, we do hard things and we do them well, (and) together.

I feel like social work chose me. My mom was a single parent and had to use resources to help provide for our care during some difficult times. Helping professionals were able to connect us with services, and I had positive experiences from people that supported my mom, myself, and my sister. As I got older, I knew I wanted to help people, I just didn't know in what way until I went into social work. Working in child welfare was the perfect fit for me. Helping families and children in the various stages of their life has been rewarding as well as heartbreaking, but the work we do is needed to ensure the health and safety of children and their families. 

I can’t express my appreciation enough for their work, which is difficult and sometimes unappreciated. They are the people who work to protect children, keep families together, and put others first. I am so grateful for their service.

How to report child abuse, neglect, or abandonment

In Idaho, we receive nearly 23,000 reports of child abuse, neglect, and abandonment each year. To report suspected child abuse, neglect, or abandonment call:

  • Statewide: 855-552-KIDS (5437)
  • Treasure Valley: 208-334-KIDS (5437)
  • 2-1-1 or local law enforcement

I hope you all have a safe and healthy weekend.