IDHW’s Mary Sheridan honored for empowering community-based rural health solutions for Idaho

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Idaho Bureau of Rural Health and Primary Care Director Mary Sheridan received the National Rural Health Association’s 2017 President’s Award May 9 during  the NRHA’s 40th annual Rural Health Conference in San Diego, where more than 800 rural health stakeholders from around the country gathered for the event.

According to the NRHA, “Sheridan exemplifies the dedication, resilience, and creativity of NRHA members, and works seamlessly with the teams she serves on to empower rural communities. She has shined in leadership and cooperative roles with the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health, the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, and the National Rural Recruitment and Retention Network. She always knows how to make the most of limited resources and boundless energy, and her encouragement and teamwork have had national and international impact.”  Continue reading

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LiveBetterIdaho.org offers a ‘holistic web approach’ for Idahoans

Live better, Idaho.

A new website focused on empowering Idahoans to do just that is now available.

LiveBetterIdaho.org is a new and unique way for consumers to discover and connect to supports that can help them live healthier lives. By linking them to appropriate services, they can be empowered to make better choices and – we hope — move themselves and their families to independent, healthier lives.

“It is a very ambitious goal and helps the public quickly take action to access local, state and national resources available to help Idahoans,” said Dick Armstrong, director of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW). “LiveBetterIdaho.org is more of a holistic web approach for people who want to improve their lives. It can help them put food on their tables, enroll in a nutrition education class, find jobs and mentors, make child support payments, quit smoking, and get access to healthcare, among other things.”

LiveBetterIdaho.org is a new and unique way for consumers to discover and connect to supports that can help them live healthier lives.

The site was created by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare to fulfill an initiative in its strategic plan, but the department is only the facilitator for a strategy of connecting people in need to a larger framework that includes community partnerships and services in addition to public assistance programs. Continue reading

Gov. Otter: ‘We are engaged, and we are going to do something.’

Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter spoke to the media Thursday morning assessing the 2015 legislative session, and addressed the child support bill that was tabled, SB 1067. Otter said he is working with lawmakers to find a solution.

“I think it’s important that we understand the consequences of doing nothing,” he said.

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A snapshot of Idaho child support collections in March

Idaho collects more than $200 million in child support payments a year, on average. The chart below is a point-in-time snapshot for March 2015. Organized by county, it shows the number of children involved in child support orders in Idaho, what percentage of the total county population those children represent, and the total of child support payments collected. The amount of child support received by each child varies.

CHILD SUPPORT_BY_COUNTY(3) countybycounty

Loss of federal tools would severely hamper state’s ability to collect child support payments

A lot of discussion has focused on the federal money the state might lose if the child support issue is not fixed during the next two months. It is serious money, but the real impact to children and families would come from the loss of federal tools the Idaho Child Support Program relies on. Here are some of the tools Idaho would no longer be able to access and a description of what they are used for:

Wage Withholding: The most important tool the state uses to collect child support payments from non-custodial parents who don’t voluntarily make their payments is wage withholding. The increase in collections by wage withholding is due, in part, to improved accuracy, ease of paternity testing, and the new-hire reporting system. In FFY 2014, $105.8 million was collected using this tool, accounting for 61 percent of all the state’s child support collections, as shown in the chart below.

Wage Withholding TS

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Fed says DHW Child Support Program has 60 days to come into compliance

The Department of Health and Welfare’s executive leadership team conferenced first thing this morning with Vicki Turetsky, commissioner for the federal Office of Child Support and Enforcement (OCSE). The topic— what will happen to the Idaho Child Support program after the Idaho Legislature’s failure to approve a bill allowing the state to meet minimum federal program requirements.

Commissioner Turetsky was very clear in her response—she will send out a letter by the end of the week giving Idaho 60 days to correct the action and meet federal compliance. If Idaho does not fix it, the state will receive a second notification letter that all federal child support funding ceases and access to all enforcement tools will be turned off. This would affect every one of the 155,000 child support cases the Idaho Child Support Program handles, which will impact more than 400,000 Idaho children and parents.  Continue reading