Throw out your preconceived notions of a customer service representative who takes orders and transfers calls. In today’s world, at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW), customer service representatives are problem-solvers and communicators. They are investigators and protectors. They listen to understand, and they speak with smiles guaranteed to comfort confused and anxious callers.
Self-reliance specialist Ambrosia Felton keeps her thank you notes on her desk to remind her of the people she has helped.
Their titles today are more reflective of their purpose. They are self-reliance specialists, and they are resolute in their goal to help their customers get to self-sufficiency by assisting them in times of need.
Ambrosia Felton and Rachelle Thrower are two of the 96 self-reliance specialists (located in Boise, Twin Falls, Idaho Falls, and Pocatello) who create the defining experience for those who call Child Support Services in the department’s Division of Welfare. The callers are mostly moms and dads who are either receiving support or providing support for their children. Sometimes the callers are employers or caseworkers.
Ambrosia and Rachelle are the first point of contact for parents who need help navigating the child support collection system. Child support is based on the idea that both parents are financially responsible for their children, and Child Support Services helps parents either pay or collect child support payments. In 2018, Child Support Services administered 147,518 cases and collected and distributed more than $205.8 million to Idaho families. Continue reading
Because of the federal government shutdown, the Department of Health and Welfare will be issuing February benefits for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) on Sunday, Jan. 20.
All households approved and re-evaluated by Tuesday, Jan. 15, will receive their February food stamps on Jan. 20. Households that complete a re-evaluation and are approved after Jan. 15 for February will receive their benefits on their regular issuance date. The department is continuing to accept and process applications normally through January and February and doesn’t anticipate any delays in SNAP issuance.
Everyone who is eligible for SNAP benefits in February will receive their benefits. However, households that receive their February benefits in January will not receive an additional issuance in February. Recipients are encouraged to budget their food stamps to last until they receive their March benefits.
“This is a fluid time for federal government services,” said Julie Hammon, administrator of the Division of Welfare. “Until we know more, please consider a donation to your local food banks and pantries – February will be tough month for many because of the length of time between benefits.”
Letters to recipients were sent by first class mail on Wednesday, Jan. 16. Department staff also have been communicating with grocery stores and other community partners on the schedule change.
If recipients have questions about the early issuance or SNAP benefits in general, they can call the Idaho CareLine by dialing 2-1-1 in Idaho or the Self-Reliance call center at 1-877-456-1233.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is administered in the Division of Welfare in the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. Benefits are paid entirely with federal funds. Learn more about the program here.
Media Contact: Niki Forbing-Orr
Public Information Manager
(208) 334-0668 or Niki.Forbing-Orr@dhw.idaho.gov
By Mimi Fetzer, RDN, LD Breastfeeding Coordinator for the Idaho WIC Program of IDHW’s Division of Public Health
In the summer of 2016, the Idaho Women, Infants, Children (WIC) program’s breastfeeding accomplishments helped it receive a Breastfeeding Bonus Award of $103,882 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Idaho Breastfeeding Summit drew 160 participants Aug. 1-3 in Boise.
Many of the WIC-designated breastfeeding experts also participate in the Idaho Breastfeeding Coalition to help supplement their knowledge and community outreach efforts. It was proposed that a large portion of the Idaho Breastfeeding Bonus Award go toward funding a first-ever Idaho Breastfeeding Summit, a conference that would strengthen breastfeeding efforts currently benefiting the state of Idaho. Continue reading
The Department of Health and Welfare’s innovative and award-winning social and community service referral website, “Live Better Idaho,” will be featured in an upcoming segment of “Informed,” a short-form documentary series that is distributed to Public Television stations in all 50 states and hosted by actor Rob Lowe. Continue reading
A new website connects Idahoans with health and social services in their communities. The idea is to empower families to discover and quickly access the services they need to help them become strong, secure, and live better. LiveBetterIdaho.org allows people to not only see available services from state agencies, nonprofits, and faith-based and community groups, it is focused on finding services quickly and showing how to immediately access the service by phone, in person, or by email. It is easy to use, and new services are being added every week.
Who should use it?
The site is meant for all Idahoans who are looking for health and social services that match their unique interests and needs. It can also serve as a tool for anyone who works with families, including caseworkers, pastors, nonprofit volunteers and others who need a way to connect them to a service without knowing all the details about where and how the service works. Continue reading
Idaho’s transition to a 10-day schedule for the distribution of food stamps benefits was smooth, with minimal issues being reported for the 180,000 citizens enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Food stamp recipients, grocery stores and food pantries proved to be informed and prepared for the change, which took place from July 1-10.
“Based on what has happened in other states, this had the potential to be an extremely difficult transition,” said Welfare Administrator Lori Wolff. “But there were very few issues, thanks to the collaboration and efforts of all of our partners in feeding Idahoans who need help to put food on their tables. Most of the calls we received were from people who knew but had forgotten about the change. We were able to help them get the information and resources they needed until their benefits were available.” Continue reading
Big changes begin on Friday for the way food stamps benefits are delivered.
Starting then, food stamps will be delivered over the first 10 days of the month rather than only on the first. Because of this, most recipients will not receive their benefits on the first and will have to wait up to 9 additional days before their benefits are available, depending on the last number of the primary applicant’s birth year.
“It’s critically important for recipients to know when they will receive their benefits so they have enough food,” said Lori Wolff, administrator for the division of Welfare. “We have several options in place so they know when those benefits will load up on the cards and are available to use. We hope they have been using those tools and are aware of the change.” Continue reading