I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.
- Angela Davis
Child Welfare & Foster Care Report
The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee (of which I am a member) heard the results of a study from the Office of Performance Evaluation, on "Child Welfare and the Foster Care System". Findings call out the critical shortage of foster parents and excessive caseloads for social workers. This has been a long term, on-going issue.
The study indicated an 8% decrease in the number of foster parents since 2014 while social workers are stretched to handle 28% to 38% increase cases over the same period. The need for additional foster parents and social workers is great. Increasing staff as well as recruiting, training and retaining the number of foster parents are critical to meeting the ever growing needs of the children in the system. This shortage has at times made it necessary to place children with foster parents who are ill equipped to deal with their needs.
Further, the report identified the need for organizational development to increase efficiency, employee satisfaction, stakeholder input, cohesion and a shared vision. While those working within the Foster Care system are committed to the folks they serve, limitations in resources result in personal and interpersonal tension.
Finally, report recommends creation of a special legislative standing committee dedicated to child welfare issues as a way for the state to improve upon this issue.
78,000 Idahoans remain in the health care gap. Senator Jordan's bill on Medicaid expansion has not been given a hearing. Several other proposals are beginning to circulate. Each version so far provides only some basic care, and each come at a much higher cost to taxpayers than Medicaid expansion. The uncertainty in Washington D.C. isn't helping. We continue to work to close the gap.
Idaho Women in Leadership Day at the Capitol
Thanks to First Lady Lori Otter, CEO of Idaho Women in Leadership (I-WIL), women across the valley spent Monday morning at the Capitol exploring Leadership Styles and Citizen Access and Engagement. A luncheon held at Zions featured a panel discussion about the unique challenges, opportunities and sensibilities of women. KTVB News Anchor Dee Sarton moderated the panel which included Rep. Wendy Horman, Idaho Director of Commerce, Megan Ronk, Mayor Rebecca Casper, of Idaho Falls, Deborah Herron, Director of Public Affairs & Government Relations for Walmart and me! It was a great day!
D-19 Schools Visit the Capitol
Every year the American Government teachers at Boise High find it important for our students to experience Idaho's State Capitol Building. They bring their students for two days during their class period and let them explore the building, and the workings of our state government with a scavenger hunt. It is important to us that our students feel comfortable in the "People's House". We encourage them to speak to people around the building, promoting civility and even take pictures with senators and representatives if they can. We find this to be an invaluable experience for our students.
Fourth graders from Ms. Carson's and Ms. Hammon's classes at Lowell Elementary also came to visit us at the Capitol this week. They stopped in the Senate Gallery to say hello and ask me questions about the government before finishing their tour of the building. It was wonderful to meet with these eager young people!
Spotlight: Women's and Children's Alliance
The mission of the WCA (Women's and Children's Alliance) is Safety, Healing and Freedom from domestic abuse and sexual assault. During the month of February, which is teen dating awareness month, the WCA is focusing on educating young adults on what healthy relationships should look like. LOVE = RESPECT is the key phrase for the month and with that in mind, the community is invited to participate in the following workshop:
Talk To Your Child: Teen Dating Violence Awareness Workshop for Parents
February 16, 2017
6 - 7 p.m.
720 W. Washington
Call 343-3688 ext 23 for more information or to reserve a spot
Here to Serve You
The goal of District 19 legislators is to address immediate needs while working strategically toward long term goals. It is my honor to serve you in the Idaho State Senate. Know that your letters, emails, texts, and calls are invaluable. I appreciate hearing what is most important to you and your family.
Join House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding, Representative Melissa Wintrow and me for our upcoming District 19 Town Hall:
February 22nd 6:30 p.m.
Shadow Hills Elementary
8301 W. Sloan St.
Boise, ID 83714