An update from DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: We are focused on protecting our children, youth, and vulnerable adults

DHW’s Living Strategic Plan: A year of progress toward Goal 2 – Protecting children, youth, and vulnerable adults

As the department continues to develop our five-year Strategic Plan, which we will submit to the Division of Financial Management in July, we have also been able to take a few moments to reflect on the journey behind us. When we look over the completed tasks and challenges overcome over the past year, we feel we have cause to celebrate how far we have come in helping Idahoans to live their best lives.

Today’s post is the second in a four-part series highlighting the department’s progress toward our mission and the goals we have committed to in our Strategic Plan. In this blog post, I would like to take the opportunity to highlight some of the key achievements over the past year that have been accomplished as part of Strategic Goal 2: Protect children, youth, and vulnerable adults. In a difficult year, the importance of this goal has never been more apparent. Our staff have worked diligently to make sure that Idaho’s children, youth, and vulnerable adults are protected – especially during such a challenging time for all of us.

Objective 2.1: Ensure children who have experienced abuse or neglect have safe, permanent homes.

  • The Division of Family and Community Services has redesigned their business processes to improve the focus on placement for youth who are in foster care without an identified permanent placement.
  • The division has implemented a new system that allows child welfare staff to manage their workflows through dashboards, with mobile functionality that allows them to more efficiently and effectively manage their cases. At least every other week, regional managers and central office leadership review performance measures for the case management redesign.
  • Contracts have been developed to implement staff training resources that will increase in-home safety cases and therefore help to prevent children from entering foster care.
  • Each youth who has been placed in a residential treatment program for 10 months or longer now has an individualized discharge plan to exit to a family placement.
  • Finally, the department has awarded grants to in-state group homes and residential treatment facilities that qualify, which enable them to meet the requirements to become a Qualified Residential Treatment Program for youth.

Objective 2.2: Transform the behavioral healthcare system in Idaho for adults with serious mental illness and addiction

  • The department continues to work with the newly formed Idaho Behavioral Health Council to develop a State of Idaho behavioral strategic plan by July 1, 2021. This work is underway and involves collaborating with a broad stakeholder team (the Idaho Behavioral Health Council) to develop a statewide, comprehensive strategic plan for Idaho’s behavioral health system. This level of transformation will take years to fully accomplish, and the department will continue to progress with this work and include new tasks in our Strategic Plans in the coming years.

Objective 2.3: Establish a long-term system of care for individuals with developmental disabilities who exhibit severe behaviors.

  • The tasks completed for this objective have moved us closer to implementing a treatment model to meet the needs of individuals with the most complex behavioral needs and significant behaviors in the state. The model ensures they receive the appropriate treatment, whether they are living at a treatment center, in the community, or are transitioning from a center back into the community.
  • Step-down treatments help those with developmental disabilities work on skills residents need to eventually live in the community, while the assessment and stabilization setting helps those who must be treated in a facility. The department has completed tasks including identification of project sponsors, identifying the setting of future treatment, determining possible funding authorities, and receiving design approval for step-down housing and for the Assessment, Observation, and Stabilization Unit.
  • They have also developed outcome measures for individuals served in Step-Down treatment and the Assessment, Observation, and Stabilization unit, and have presented a plan to the 2021 Legislature on how to establish the new treatment model for individuals with developmental disabilities and complex needs.
  • The division has completed a plan to build the capacity of community providers so that they are better able to provide specialized medical and autism services to individuals with developmental disabilities and severe behaviors.
  • Work is continuing on the implementation of new design elements for the long-term system of care by July 1, 2022, which will allow the department to begin transitioning to the new system of care.

As we reflect on the progress and completion of these tasks and objectives in the second of the department’s four strategic goals, I am filled with gratitude and admiration for the hard work put in every day by DHW staff, and by the countless partners who continue to help us along the way. As we prepare to move our focus toward the next four years, I am confident that we will continue to innovate and collaborate in our work together to serve Idahoans.

You can follow the DHW’s work toward our mission and read more about our Strategic Plan on our website.

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