Providing Access to Dental Care for Kids
Affiliation addresses 30.8% of Santa Cruz County Children Who Have Never Been to the Dentist
There is nothing quite as contagious as a giggly smile from a preschooler and that was in abundance at the Angela Agbayani Center Head Start program in Watsonville when the Dientes Outreach team came by to provide dental care. The day of care was part of a new partnership between Dientes Community Dental Care and the Encompass Head Start program that began this school year to help address the 25% of pre-K children in Santa Cruz County who have untreated dental decay, as was revealed at the December 2016 Oral Health Summit.
“Oral health has always been an important focus of our program,” stated Encompass Head Start Program Health Manager Hannah Hayes. She continued, “Having Dientes provide dental care at our preschool locations has gone a step further by giving low-income families the opportunity to overcome major barriers to care like transportation, having to take time off work and trying to get an appointment. It is easier for families and kids get the care they need. It is a win-win!”
Five-year-old Juan Lopez counted out his teeth when he first sat down in the impromptu mobile clinic and was happy to share his gleaming smile. After x-rays with Dientes RDA Angelica Cruz, Dr. Samuel Kuo gave him an oral health exam, toothbrush cleaning and showed him how to best clean his teeth. He happily skipped back to class with his goody bag.
The Angela Agbayani Center is one of 12 Encompass Head Start programs that altogether provide preschool care for nearly 400 kids. The Dientes partnership has enabled them to see one-quarter of these children in just the first year.
Dientes Outreach Manager Tana Stragalinos, explains, “We have grown our Outreach Program to 35 locations with this new partnership. It is really all about access to care for low-income kids. We want all children to have a dental home so they can grow up with a healthy smile.”
Dientes Community Dental Care’s mission is to create lasting oral health for the underserved children and adults in Santa Cruz County and neighboring communities. Dientes accepts Medi-Cal (one of ten providers in Santa Cruz County) and offers sliding scale fees for uninsured patients.
Head Start has been improving the lives of low-income children and families in Santa Cruz County since 1965 through high-quality, comprehensive child development, and family support services. Head start supports school readiness and promotes healthy families through delivery of education, health and social services.
For more information, go to: www.encompasscs.org/child-and-family-development/head-start
For more information about the needs assessment and the Oral Health Strategic Plan 2017-2020, go to: oralhealthscc.org