Young children from low-income families in Douglas County should find it easier to get dental care, thanks to a new three-year pilot program aimed at children on Medicaid.
Douglas County is one of three Kansas counties Sedgwick and Saline are the others to get a $75,000 public-private grant to start the Access to Baby and Child Dentistry Program.
"It gives children in the 0- to 5-year-old population access to dental care," said Allison Levans, manager of the Douglas County Dental Clinic, which will house the program under the auspices of the Success by 6 Coalition of Douglas County. "It also allows us to go out in the community and educate the families of those children about proper oral care."
Rich Minder, director of Success by 6, said the program was important because Douglas County has a shortage of dentists. Few, he said, take Medicaid patients.
"It's not like there's a compelling economic need for them to serve Medicaid-eligible children," Minder said.
"The (young) children really lose out," Levans said.
She said the money will be used to hire a case manager to educate families and connect them with dental care. The clinic will also hire a hygienist, who will oversee a program to apply a cavity-preventing fluoride varnish to the teeth of low-income young children.
Nearly 2,000 Douglas County children are eligible for the program, Levans said.
Money for the project comes from a public-private partnership between the Kansas Children's Cabinet, the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund and the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services. Some of the money will be used to match federal Medicaid funds.