As Carlos Ramos, psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, breezes through the regional office where he is based, his banter with colleagues leaves a warm wake of energy, humor, and generosity. His every interaction speaks of his inspired dedication to his team’s work, and his obvious passion for helping Idahoans.
Carlos Ramos, pyschosocial rehabilitation specialist, and Christine Poff, client services technician, pause for a photo before starting their work day in Family and Community Services.
Carlos has worked for the state for more than 11 years. When we meet him, it has been two weeks since his promotion to the newly developed role of psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, although he prefers to refer to his role as “family engagement specialist.” Prior to this, he was a client services technician for several years. His work involved providing support for supervised visits between children who are in foster care and their families. In his new role, he focuses more on proactive training and relationship building between clients and department staff. Ultimately, his work is always focused on providing support and resources that will lead toward the path of safe reunification for the family.
Carlos glows with natural charm as he introduces us to his colleagues in the office. He poses for a picture with one colleague, Christine Poff, teasing her (or himself): “You should sit down for this photo. You’re too tall!” he says. To another colleague, he checks that they are still planning on having tamales for lunch sometime this week. He checks the staff notes board to see if his former supervisor, Sharon Campbell, is in. He describes her as “magic” and talks about her glowingly and at length throughout our visit. A colleague appears from a visitation room cradling a baby, and Carlos strides over, unable to help himself from joining in. As he leans down toward the baby, his normal smile broadens and beams over his entire face. “You’re one of those cute babies!” he coos. Continue reading
Keeping children safe is one of our primary goals at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. This month is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, so it’s a good time talk about what you should do if you think a child might be neglected or abused.
If you suspect a child is abused or neglected, what should you do?
We hope you’ll care enough to call 1-855-552-KIDS. If you even suspect that a child is being mistreated, you are required by law to call and report it. Your call is confidential, and you don’t have to prove neglect or abuse. That’s the job of law enforcement and social workers. You just need to let us know you think there might be an issue, so our child protection staff can start looking into it. Continue reading
Falen LeBlanc worked for DHW’s child welfare program for 15 years. One of the foster youth she mentored worked in Sen. Mike Crapo’s office and arranged for a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol to be retired in her honor.
With the sunset on Feb. 26, a flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol was retired in honor of a Department of Health and Welfare employee whose career with the department also has ended. Child Welfare Program’s Independent Living Program Specialist, Falen LeBlanc, was honored with the Capitol flag by foster youth she has tirelessly advocated for during her 15 year career with DHW’s child welfare program.
Former foster youth Ricky Lewis and Kailamai Hansen, who now co-chair the Idaho Foster Youth Advisory Board, made the arrangements for the Capitol flag through Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo’s office. Sen. Crapo will send the flag to Idaho, along with a personalized congratulatory note to Falen. Ricky, Kailamai and other former foster youth joined DHW staff on a recent Friday afternoon and showed Falen a webcam view of the flag flying over the U.S. Capitol in her honor as they paid tribute to her.
“It was very sweet and moving,” Falen said. “I am going to miss my co-workers, but leaving the kids that I have worked with over the years is the hardest thing. I am so proud of them; they have grown so much and they are so special. ” Continue reading
Protecting children from abuse and neglect, healing and reuniting families, and searching for forever homes for children is what our child welfare program does. Based on recent stories in the media and a buzz on social media, you may have heard different opinions about that. But keeping children safe and families together is the main reason so many of us come to work each day. And Health and Welfare employees are not alone in this effort.
Foster parents have a huge role in the lives of children in crisis. So do the courts. And so do the guardians ad litem, prosecutors, the schools and law enforcement.
Protecting children and keeping them safe is a team effort. None of us can safely protect and nurture these children on our own. We need the help and support of each other. Without that, the system becomes dysfunctional. Each of us has to do our part, and rely on our partners to do the same. It needs to be a very collaborative process to succeed. Continue reading
Last spring, Idaho children living in KinCare with grandparents and other extended family members were invited to explore the meaning of family through poems, essays and drawings in the fourth annual My Family. My Story. art contest. Children from across the state sent in their poems, short essays, and drawings that described how living with someone other than their parents makes a positive difference in their lives. On Friday, July 17th, the children’s art work will be celebrated across the state during Idaho KinCare Family Day, which Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter has proclaimed. Continue reading