WICAP assists local residents impacted by COVID-19

Steve Lyon

The Western Idaho Community Action Partnership (WICAP) office in Weiser has been assisting with rent, utility and food for Washington County residents impacted by COVID-19, an official with the nonprofit said.
 Carrie Palmer, who is the new director of community services for WICAP, recently updated county commissioners on the programs provided by the social services agency in a seven-county region.
 Palmer said WICAP has received some federal relief funds through the CARES Act and also from the state to provide assistance to people impacted by COVID-19. Just as fast as the grant money comes in, it is spent assisting residents.
 In June, WICAP handed out 900 food boxes and helped 400 families with rental assistance, utility bills, gas cards and other services in the counties the agency serves.
 WICAP was able to use funding to help a woman fix her water pipes and restore water service at her house. She had gone without running water for a couple of months, Palmer said.
 During the COVID-19 pandemic the Weiser office located on West Main Street has been closed to the public. Employees continue to work in the office and are taking phone calls. Some are working remotely from home.
 “We’re still servicing families and we’re still providing food,” Palmer said.
 WICAP employee Steve Morningstar said food boxes are given out at the Weiser office on Tuesday and Thursday from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Families that need food pull up in front of the office and prepared boxes are brought out to the vehicle. There is no contact between WICAP employees and families receiving food.
 Morningstar said 128 families in Washington County received food boxes in July through the Weiser office. Each family receives 110 to 150 pounds of food. Families have to be residents of Washington County.
 WICAP also has been referring people who have been financially impacted by COVID-19 to the Idaho Housing Association for help with rent and utility bills. The IHA offers short-term assistance for those who qualify through its Housing Preservation Program.
 Palmer said the number of programs offered by WICAP continues to grow as does the demand for services.
 WICAP has applied for a fatherhood grant to work with incarcerated parents of children. The program will be designed to support dads in their relationships with their children when they are released from jail and help keep those relationships alive, Palmer said.
 “We’re excited about that if we get it,” she said.
 Another WICAP program called Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health) is designed to address the physical, social, emotional, cognitive and behavioral aspects of child development from infant to age 8.
 The grant-funded program employs resiliency advocates who engage in educating caregivers on evidence-based strategies to support improved outcomes for young children and their families.
 Resiliency advocates join with families and community partners to identify children’s unmet needs, then develop individualized planning that guides families access to resources as well as providing direct services.
 Palmer’s visit with county commissioners coincided with FY 2021 budget preparations. Commissioners contributed $10,000 in support for WICAP in fiscal year 2020 and plan to continue with that contribution amount in FY 2021.
 Commissioners said WICAP could request the funds anytime during the next fiscal year and doesn’t have to wait until the end of FY 2021. They also requested WICAP provide a summary of how the funds are spent.

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