Domestic Violence Awareness: Break the cycle

Each day in Idaho alone, more than 500 victims and their children seek safety and services from community-based domestic violence programs. Nationally, 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence. Since October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, it’s a great time to learn how to recognize and stop the cycle of violence.

So let’s define domestic violence.

It is a pattern of abusive behavior in a relationship used by one partner to gain or maintain power over the other partner. It is physical, sexual and psychological harm or even just the threat of it.

What are some of the common warning signs that your partner might become violent?

There are several warning signs, but the most obvious is a partner who physically hurts you in any way. Other red flags include when a significant other checks your cellphone or email without permission, constantly puts you down, is extremely jealous or insecure, has an explosive temper, controls all of your money, and tries to isolate you from family or friends.  Continue reading

Supported Living Rates Set Following Comprehensive Survey

Changes to Medicaid’s supported living rates are being finalized following the completion of an intensive cost survey of Idaho providers.  This benefit pays for caregivers to support developmentally disabled adults in their own residence rather than in an institution or in a certified family home.

A group of supported living providers had previously sued the Department of Health and Welfare, contending that rates were too low to support their services.  The 9th Circuit Court enjoined the department to pay a higher rate for these services.  The Office of the Attorney General contested this case up to the United States Supreme Court, which resulted in the landmark Armstrong vs. Exceptional Child Center decision last December that established that providers do not have standing to sue states to increase their reimbursement. Continue reading

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

There’s a good chance this disease will affect your life or the life of someone close to you because it is so common. Only skin cancer has higher rates. One in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetimes. Nationally, 246,660 women and more than 2,500 men will be diagnosed with the disease this year, and almost 40,500 women and 440 men will die from it. Here in Idaho, more than 1,000 breast cancer cases were diagnosed in 2013 with almost 200 deaths (191 in 2014).

Let’s talk about risk. Is it possible for a person to reduce their risk?

Risk factors for breast cancer include being female, getting older, and becoming a mother later in life. Other factors include a family history of breast cancer, being overweight and not getting enough exercise. Even though you can’t control your genetic risk for the disease, you can take steps to stay healthy and help prevent it. Maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcoholic drinks, knowing your family history, and getting the recommended regular screenings all help reduce your risk. Continue reading

It’s time to get your yearly flu vaccine

It’s time to get the annual flu vaccine so you’re ready for flu season, which can run from October to May. Flu activity typically peaks anytime between December and March, and positive flu tests are already showing up this year. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from what can be a serious infection, even for otherwise healthy people.

There are some new recommendations for the flu vaccines this year. Can you talk about those?

The yearly recommendation that everyone over the age of the 6 months get the flu vaccine has not changed. But you will notice the lack of a nasal vaccine this year. It was commonly called the flu mist. Research has shown that it wasn’t as effective as the flu shot for several years, so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that people should get the injection instead.  Continue reading

The power of preparedness in case of disaster

Wildfires, once again, have consumed our attention this summer in Idaho. But Idaho is also prone to other natural disasters, including floods and earthquakes. A flu pandemic, extreme temperatures, and accidents involving long-term power outages also are very real possibilities. Are you prepared if one of these disasters strikes?

How do you prepare for the unknown?

We can’t know for sure where or when a disaster will happen, but having emergency supplies, a disaster plan and making sure you are informed about the specific emergencies your area is most at risk for will help protect you and your family from the chaos of a disaster. Get a kit, make a plan and be informed.  Continue reading

Preventing suicide in Idaho

Idaho and the mountain western states continually rank in the top 10 states for number of completed suicides per capita. But the good news is that completed suicides are not the norm – well over 90 percent of people who make attempts do not die by suicide. And with the creation of the Suicide Prevention Program in the Department of Health and Welfare during the last legislative session, the state of Idaho has made preventing suicide a priority.

Tell us about where we are with the Suicide Prevention Program.

We just got the funding to start up the program on July 1, and we have hired three staff, including program manager Kim Kane. We’re very excited about her leadership and expertise in the program. We have one more position to hire for, and then we can turn our energy to youth suicide prevention and intervention activities and public awareness. So you’ll likely be hearing more from us about suicide prevention as the program gets up and running. Meet Kim as she introduces the state’s suicide prevention program at a recent press conference hosted by the City of Boise and the Speedy Foundation.  Continue reading

‘It’s About Me!’ highlights children in the developmental disabilities program



A love of all animals, Star Wars, Boise State University, being an artist, a winking rainbow, doing gymnastics, reading “millions of books,” dancing — these are the things children in the Developmental Disabilities Program think of when they  describe themselves and their interests.

This is the first year for the Idaho Children’s art contest highlighting children who receive developmental disability services throughout the state.

“We want to highlight the children in our program, because they are the reason we come to work each day,” said Sarah Allen, a supervisor in the Children’s Developmental Disabilities Program in the Department of Health and Welfare. “This contest showcased the kids in our program — their interests, strengths, talents, and future aspirations. It was really fun learning more about the kids we serve.”  Continue reading