Idaho’s foster care system seeks compassionate hearts this May

May 3, 2024
Miren Unsworth, DHW Deputy Director

May marks National Foster Care Month, a time to raise awareness about foster care issues in Idaho and express appreciation for those families who step forward to care for vulnerable children in their communities.

With approximately 1,500 foster children in the state at any given moment, the demand for compassionate families willing to support them is constant.

There are two primary ways this happens in Idaho: through kinship care or foster care.

Kinship care

When children cannot safely remain with their parents, DHW’s priority is to seek out relatives or close family friends who can provide a nurturing environment while maintaining familial bonds and cultural heritage. 

These caregivers, known as kinship caregivers, play a crucial role caring for children in need of support , and they number in the tens of thousands. Whether formalized through legal channels or initiated during times of family crisis, kinship arrangements are pivotal, yet often come with legal, financial, and emotional challenges. 

However, kinship care providers in Idaho are not alone, as support services are available. Idaho's Kinship Program offers a range of resources tailored to kinship caregivers, including financial assistance, legal guidance, support groups, and respite care options.

Foster care

Foster families provide a crucial lifeline for children who cannot safely remain in their home. The need for additional foster families in Idaho is constant, making every willing caregiver invaluable to the well-being of vulnerable children. There is a specific need for families who can care for sibling groups and adolescents. 

To consider becoming a foster parent, call 2-1-1 or 800-926-2588 or visit:

Miren Unsworth is a deputy director and interim Family and Community Services division administrator at DHW. She has spent 21 years working in service to children and families, including 18 years of work in public child welfare programs as a case manager, supervisor, policy manager, as well as a deputy administrator and administrator for FACS.

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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