Idaho’s foster care parents are in short supply, caseloads high

Idaho’s foster care system struggles under a deepening shortage of foster parents and high caseloads for social workers, according to a performance review released Monday.

The review by the Legislature’s Office of Performance Evaluations cited an 8 percent decline in the number of licensed foster parents from 2014 to 2016, from 1,062 to 974, and caseloads that were one-third or more higher than they should be.

“What is unquestioned is there is a workload problem,” Amanda Bartlett, one of OPE’s evaluators, told the Legislature’s joint oversight committee Monday.

The office recommended creation of a broad oversight entity to address performance gaps.

“A legislative standing committee is one option that states have used to establish this oversight with ongoing accountability, visibility, and accessibility,” OPE Director Rakesh Mohan wrote in his message to the committee accompanying the report.

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Twenty percent increase proposed to Idaho’s foster parent reimbursements

As budget hearings continue this week on health and human services programs, Idaho’s Division of Child Welfare is requesting a 20 percent increase in the stipends paid to foster parents for caring for children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned or who are unsafe in their own homes. “There is no doubt our foster families are tasked with difficult work, caring for children traumatized from abuse or neglect,” Gary Moore, division administrator, told legislative budget writers this morning. “The state must work diligently to ensure our foster families do not face an additional burden.”

The proposed increase – which Gov. Butch Otter is recommending funding – would come to $347,800 next year in state general funds, and would draw $491,300 in federal matching funds, for a total increase of $839,100. For children from birth to 5 years old, the current monthly rate that Idaho pays foster parents is $329; for kids age 6-12, $366; and for kids age 13 and older, $487. The state surveyed surrounding states, and found that Idaho was far below the average of those states.

Minivan with 10 kids pulled over, parents hospitalized

JEROME COUNTY – Ten kids are in Idaho custody after the Jerome County sheriff’s office says a minivan driven by their mom was pulled over Monday just east of Jerome.

The sheriff’s office said an anonymous complaint was received around 9:45 a.m. of a green minivan “full of kids” being driven recklessly northbound on U.S. 93.

Deputies stopped the minivan near milepost 4 on Idaho 25.

The sheriff’s office said deputies later determined that the female driver and her husband, who was a passenger, appeared to be under the influence of prescription medication and incoherent.