Please help Idaho’s children by reporting suspected abuse or neglect (It’s the law!)

041117ChildAbuseKeeping 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

Flag on U.S. Capitol was flown in honor of foster youth mentor

Falen LeBlanc

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

Child welfare: It’s a team effort

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

Art contest celebrates KinCare families: Idaho KinCare Family Day is Friday, July 17

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