New Health Care Law Pumps Millions to Protect idaho's At-Risk Families and Kids 

Last week, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department announced $88 million in grants to support home-visiting programs focused on improving the well-being of families with young children. Through the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, nurses and social workers make house calls, evaluate families' circumstances, and connect families to health-care or developmental services for children, as well as nutrition assistance.

Roger Sherman, executive director of the Idaho Children's Trust Fund, told Citydesk that nearly $800,000 is earmarked for Idaho in fiscal year 2010, with $500,000 immediately available. The amount is expected to grow to more than $3 million per year by the fourth year of the program.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said there is strong research evidence that the programs can improve outcomes for children and families while yielding Medicaid savings by reducing preterm births and the need for emergency room visits.

On a sad note, suicides in Idaho increased by 22 percent between 2008 and 2009, according to the state Department of Health and Welfare. Idaho's rate of suicide by firearm is higher than the national average and calls to the national suicide prevention hotline are also on the rise.

Idaho's rural communities are at the highest risk for suicide. Lemhi County had the highest rate, followed by Caribou, Minidoka, Custer and Valley counties.

Idaho lost its suicide prevention hotline in 2007.

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Speaking of Health And Human Services Department, Idaho Children's Trust Fund

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