For those raising children when the parents are unable to do so: A thank you from DHW Director Dave Jeppesen

I am asking all Idahoans to join me in celebrating and honoring Idaho’s kinship families. Kinship care is when significant adults (e.g. grandparents, Godparents, aunts and uncles, etc.) in the lives of children take on the responsibility of parenting when the child’s parents are unable to take care of them. I am guessing that some of you are parenting and nurturing your grandchildren, or maybe your nephew or niece, and to you, I send my sincerest appreciation.

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 1 in 11 children live with a relative or significant adult at some point before turning 18. In 2018 in Idaho, there were 10,574 grandparents responsible for their grandchildren under 18 years old. This does not count for the thousands of children living with relatives informally. In the State Fiscal Year 2020 (July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020), 2,934 children in Idaho were in foster care. Of those, approximately one-third were placed with either relatives or with a person who had a significant relationship with the child.

The department is actively working to create resources and support for caregivers. We know that the majority of caregivers are not receiving the support or assistance they are eligible for today. In an effort to provide further support to kinship caregivers and families, Idaho applied for and received a federal kinship navigation grant. Our goal for the grant funding is to identify kinship families and provide individualized supports to prevent children from entering formal foster care by supporting placements that promote family stability, safety, and well-being. We have applied for a second federal grant, which will serve as a continuation of our current grant activities. 

My Story. My Family. – art and expression contest

Every year, the department sponsors an art and expression contest (called My Family. My Story.) for the children in kinship care. This contest celebrates the relatives and significant adults who have opened their hearts and homes to children and youth. The purpose has been two-fold: to recognize the contributions of kinship providers and to help children feel connected with other children who are in similar circumstances.

There is a panel that will select the winners for all categories. Winners will be announced in September, and all winners will receive a prize. To see previous entries or to get more information on the contest, please call 2-1-1 or visit https://211.idaho.gov/. Deadline for entries is Sept. 18, 2020.

This year, we expanded the contest to include Idaho’s kinship providers, as well as our community partners who help serve and support kinship families. Previous entries have included everything from drawings from young children telling us what they love about their families to personal stories and artwork reflecting personal growth and family dynamics. 

As Starl, age 7, told us last in her 2019 entry (My Family. My Story)

I don’t have to live in a car anymore.

I have a house with a mom and my own bed.

I have clothes.

 I have my grandparents.

I have love.

The stories are both heart-wrenching and heartwarming. I hope you will take the time to read them. It will help you understand what simply having a warm and loving home means to the children in kinship care.

If you are a caregiver or know someone who is that might benefit from our resources, please call 2-1-1 or visit https://211.idaho.gov/ for more information. 

Gov. Little extends Stage 4 for two more weeks

Gov. Brad Little announced today that Idaho would remain in Stage 4 for at least two more weeks. The number of hospital admissions, one of the criteria for reopening, is higher than the state would like to see. Hospital admissions of confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients was higher than eight per day during the past two weeks. We are cautiously pleased that other metrics (such as case numbers) are improving or showing a downward trend.

Additionally, the Governor announced that the COVID-19 Financial Advisory Committee is allocating $2.5 million to support the Idaho Foodbank and their partners as they help Idahoans who are facing food insecurity.

As the Governor said, one of the best ways to solve food insecurity for Idahoans is to control the virus and lower the number of cases. We can all help by wearing masks or cloth face coverings, washing our hands often, practicing physical distancing, staying home when sick, and being sure to cover your coughs and sneezes and disinfecting surfaces and objects regularly.

Have a safe and healthy weekend, and #MaskUpIdaho.

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