In response to the pressing need for suitable housing for foster children, a new placement is set to open in Payette in the coming months and offer a lifeline to kids who were previously placed in short-term rental accommodations.
During the past couple of years child welfare staff with Family and Community Services (FACS) faced difficulties finding suitable placements for children entering foster care. We initially turned to hotel rooms, but the inadequacy of such spaces for children became apparent and led to the innovative idea of using short-term rentals.
As the number of children in need continued to grow, program staff found themselves managing six separate short-term rentals. Recognizing the inefficiency and lack of cost-effectiveness, the program explored creation of a centralized placement that would provide a more organized and licensed space.
The placement will provide housing for children that the program is unable to place quickly with foster parents, either because they are older children or because they have complex needs. One of the first and most important goals when children enter our care is to find them appropriate housing, but that can be difficult when the need arises during evening hours or the children’s needs are beyond what most foster parents are able to handle.
FACS is in the process of securing a vacant assisted living facility, which will be more suitable for meeting children’s needs. It will house up to 12 children in a more structured and cost-effective manner than housing them in short-term rentals. This new placement is committed to assuring children have comprehensive services, including mental health, physical health, and education.
The best place for children to live is in a home with their nuclear or extended family. The child welfare program seeks to place children in homes with foster families when their original families are unable to care for them safely.
Foster families are needed in Idaho. Those interested in becoming foster parents or learning more about the program can call 2-1-1 to obtain an application. The program also welcomes treatment foster parents, who play a crucial role in providing enhanced support to children with complex needs.
Last year, FACS successfully reunited over 700 children with their families, and facilitated 260 adoptions. As of late November, there were 1,549 children in foster care in Idaho, emphasizing the ongoing need for foster families and placements like the new home in Payette.
The opening of the Payette placement represents a significant step toward addressing the challenges faced by the child welfare program, with the hope of positively impacting the lives of children in need.
Cameron Gilliland is the administrator of the Division of Family and Community Services. He has worked for the department since 1996 in various capacities and was promoted to administrator in August 2021. He has been trained as a clinical social worker and has overseen policy for the Child Welfare Program and managed several developmental disability programs in the department.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is dedicated to strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans. Learn more at healthandwelfare.idaho.gov.
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