(Please see the organization chart.)
Each Division provides services, or partners with other agencies and groups, to help people in our communities. As an example, the Division of Family and Community Services will provide direct services for child protection and may partner with community providers or agencies to help people with developmental disabilities.
Our Regional Directors help carry out the mission of the Department. They work with community leaders and groups to develop partnerships that help more people than the Department could by itself. They also are our Director's community representatives and are geographically located to reach each area of the state.
Public health and welfare programs in Idaho have developed in tandem with national concerns and federal policies. Historical watersheds, such as the Great Depression and World War II, and landmark legislation, such as the Social Security Act of 1935, have had major impacts on state programs. Every session of Congress and the Idaho Legislature also have molded state policies and programs. Idaho developed a state Medicaid Program in 1965 to provide health care for the elderly, disabled, and pregnant women and children from low-income families. State and federal mandates influence the Department more than any other factor.
We Began in 1885
Idaho began building what is today the Department of Health and Welfare even before statehood in 1890. The first elements were the Idaho Insane Asylum (1885) at Blackfoot, the Idaho Soldier's Home (1893) at Boise, the North Idaho Insane Asylum (1905) at Orofino and the Idaho State Sanitarium (1911) at Nampa. Those institutions developed into State Hospital South; the Idaho State Veterans Homes now located in Boise, Pocatello and Lewiston; State Hospital North; and Idaho State School and Hospital.
The Board was replaced in 1919 by the Department of Public Welfare, which included public health and social programs until 1941. At that point, the state created departments of Public Health, Public Assistance and Charitable Institutions. These programs continued to evolve under various names and organizations. Environmental programs began as a branch of public health and have had increasing stature since the 1940s. Since 1974, all of these activities were consolidated within the Department of Health and Welfare. The Board of Health and Welfare, in its current form, was created at the same time.