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Idaho parents can apply for money to fulfill their children's education-related needs.

Screenshot from Empowering Parents homepage
Idaho's Empowering Parents program is accepting applications from parents for a second round of education-related grants.

The program is funded by federal rescue plan money.

The state of Idaho is distributing money to families with children whose educations were hampered by the Covid pandemic.

The Empowering Parents program allows parents to buy goods and services, from computers and improved internet connections to school-related products. It’s bankrolled by a $50 million appropriation from the Idaho legislature.

“It actually was based on a one-time program that we had implemented the year before, using some of the emergency pandemic dollars that the state had received," said Tracie Bent, the chief planning and policy officer for the state Board of Education.

That program was so popular that the state dedicated federal relief money for a first application round in the fall. Bent says the state is in process of notifying nine thousand families that they’re receiving grants of up to a thousand dollars, three thousand max for an entire family. The state recently opened a second application round for families with annual gross incomes of $60,000 or less.

Parents apply online at EmpoweringParents.Idaho.gov and choose goods and services offered by a state-approved vendor.

“Once a family receives the award, they go through the marketplace and, because the vendors are already approved, it makes the process much quicker than something, for instance, where it might be based on reimbursement and then you never know for sure whether you’ll be reimbursed," Bent said.

She says the marketplace system allows the state to track what parents are most interested in. She says, so far, parents have spent more than $3 million. The number one purchase is for technology and internet service.

One of the Northwest's most seasoned reporters is returning to his SPR roots. Doug Nadvornick will be heard frequently on KPBX and KSFC reporting on local news.