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DHW’s Preston office to close in June, services continue to be available

PRESTON, Idaho (KIFI) - The Department of Health and Welfare is leveraging a lease that expires at the end of June to permanently close a small office in Preston.

The office, located at 223 North State St., Preston, is not currently open to the public because of the pandemic.

The three employees who work in the office represent various programs and assist Idahoans as they apply for Medicaid, Food Stamps, Cash Assistance and Child Care Assistance. They also conduct safety assessments for child protection referrals and serve children and families in need of Foster Care services. There were no layoffs. The three employees will continue working for the department.

“While closing an office is not without some impact, we want to assure individuals and families that services are still available,” DHW Director Dave Jeppesen said. “The department enjoyed a long-standing and close partnership with the building owner for many years, but the need for face-to-face services has diminished and most of the work can be completed virtually. The closest office to Preston is in Pocatello, which remains open for walk-in services.”

Before the pandemic began, individuals primarily visited the office to apply for self-reliance benefits, such as Medicaid, Food Stamps, Cash Assistance and Child Care Assistance. Most of the time, those individuals could be served over the phone or online. The office has been closed for most of the past year because of the pandemic, and the employees all worked from home full-time.

Department staff continue to provide services without disruption by phone, email, fax, online through the DHW website and in-person to individuals and families in programs such as Infant-Toddler, Behavioral Health, Developmental Disabilities and Child Protection.

The department maintains and staffs 18 other offices throughout Idaho that are open to the public.

Article Topic Follows: Health

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