JULY 8, 2010

Services once offered by Health and Welfare still available

By Ron Beecher, Regional Director, North Department of Health and Welfare

   Budget constraints forced the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) to close its Orofino office and eight others in the state last May, but many of the essential services offered by the agency remain unchanged in Idaho communities, including Orofino.

   Critical services such as child welfare, mental health services, and developmental disability services for young children continue to be delivered by DHW staff working in the Orofino community.

   For others, such as public assistance programs like Food Stamps and Medicaid, Orofino area residents can either visit the nearest DHW office or submit an assistance application by mail.

   Here is helpful information about accessing DHW services:

   Child Welfare is committed to the safety and well-being of children in the Orofino community. Child Welfare staff provides services for child protection, foster care, adoptions, and independent living for youth transitioning from the foster care system to adulthood. This group focuses on strengthening families, nurturing children and helping to address and remedy situations that compromise children’s safety and well-being. Staff members continue to work with families locally. To report possible child abuse or neglect or to contact a worker, please call toll-free, 1-877-799-4360.

   Behavioral Health services continue in the community to meet the needs in both Clearwater County and the Kamiah/Kooskia areas. Staff helps individuals manage personal challenges resulting from mental illnesses and/or substance use disorders. To reach staff or to request services, call toll-free, 1-877-799-4411.

   The Infant Toddler Program continues to provide early intervention services to families and their young children in the families’ homes in the Orofino community. A child may be eligible for early intervention services with the Infant Toddler program if they are less than three years of age and experiencing a developmental delay, or if they have a medical or other condition that may lead to a developmental delay. Free developmental screenings for children are offered monthly at Clearwater Valley Hospital or in a family’s home upon request. Please contact staff or request services at 476-8152 or 476-8159.

   Resource and Services Navigation continues helping families cope with situations in which they may need a temporary helping hand. A navigator helps families who may be dealing with job loss, serious illness, or other serious challenges.

   Navigators work with other community partners to find local resources to help families get back on their feet and become self-reliant once again. Program services include information and referral to community resources, short-term case management services, and limited financial assistance for urgent situations or for career enhancement. Navigation is a voluntary program open to anyone regardless of social/economic background or family status. To contact a worker, call 476-8142.

   As mentioned earlier, applying for public assistance services must be done either at the nearest DHW office or by mail. This would include assistance for food, medical care, child care or cash assistance. Applications and information is available on the Internet at, or by calling the Idaho CareLine at 2-1-1 or 1-800-926-2588.

   Although the DHW office is closed, DHW staff maintains a strong presence in the Orofino community and continues to provide critical services. No one wanted to see offices close, but DHW appreciates the community’s support during these tough times when difficult decisions had to be made.