Riverbend: Early Head Start Program Provides Support to Children in Need

Posted on June 27, 2013 in In the Community

Two-year-old George didn’t waste any time with his awesome new toothbrush. He popped it into his mouth as soon as his Case Manager Amber produced it! She was delivering a Dentist By 1 kit donated by the Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation to Riverbend Head Start & Family Services, a nonprofit health and human services agency in Madison County, Illinois.

George is one of 215 children enrolled in the agency’s Early Head Start program in Southern Illinois. Case managers like Amber visit families weekly bringing child development and parent education curriculum to ensure that babies thrive, toddlers grow strong and preschoolers are ready for kindergarten.

Starting Early

George and his family have enjoyed Early Head Start since he was three months old, before his first tooth erupted. His Case Manager has been teaching his parents about the importance of brushing and flossing baby teeth from the get go.

Oral health education is a major part of Riverbend Head Start’s parenting education curriculum since tooth decay is preventable. Children with caries can’t speak, eat or learn properly. Many dentists in Riverbend Head Start’s region won’t see children before they are five. Those that will aren’t always able to accept the state-funded insurance commonly known as the Medical Card.

To achieve its primary goal of preparing children to succeed in school, Riverbend Head Start & Family Services spends just over $100K a year on dental screenings and treatments in order to overcome these barriers for the nearly 1,000 birth to five year olds served each year. A significant portion of that budget is spent on major surgery to address the effects of extreme tooth decay.

Developing Positive Skills

Riverbend Head Start’s mission is to engage children and families in developing positive skills to meet life’s challenges such as childhood poverty. Mission partners like Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation are critical to helping the agency’s case managers, like Amber, teach parents positive skills and dodge the potential effects of childhood poverty.

George recently had a dentist appointment and all 20 of his baby teeth are in excellent shape!

For more information, please visit www.deltadentalil.com/ddilfoundation.