June 13, 2012
MEDIA CONTACT: Carrie Hoeppner,
Central Region Communications Director,
KISSIMMEE - The Florida Department of Children and Families and the Florida Dental Association have reinforced their partnership in an effort to help improve dental care for all children who are in foster care. On Thursday, the Florida Dental Association and its members will offer dental treatment for 50 youth in the local foster care system at no cost.
Last year, DCF made quality dental care of children in foster care a top priority as the agency continues to make certain that these youth receive the same attention and compassion every child deserves.
"Often, youth enter foster care already suffering from serious dental concerns or neglect. We have an obligation to these children to attend to all of their medical needs, including dental care, while we serve as their caregivers," said DCF Secretary David Wilkins. "We are proud that the Florida Dental Association will help us ensure that all children, including those in foster care, have access to quality dental services. It's more than simply good oral hygiene. A healthy smile promotes confidence and self-esteem."
Last year, DCF began closely monitoring health care services among community-based care organizations across the state who contract with the agency to provide foster care services. Since the initiative began, much progress has been made and there has been a very positive response from providers.
Brevard Family Partnership, which oversees foster care services in Brevard County, leads the state in the percentage of youth now receiving dental care at 94 percent. Statewide, nearly 79 percent of youth in foster care are receiving appropriate dental care. The challenges in Central Florida are greater since fewer than 75 percent of children in foster care have seen a dentist in the previous six months.
To review the monthly scorecard that reports the progress in dental and medical care and other important issued among DCF's contracted community partners, go to www.dcf.state.fl.us/programs/cbc/cbcaccountability.shtml
Expanding access to dental care is just one part of DCF's overall effort to improve the quality of foster care for Florida's children, giving them the same opportunities as their peers to live a childhood that is safe, healthy and happy.
"The Florida Dental Association and its foundation, the Florida Dental Health Foundation, are pleased to partner with the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Health, Community Based Care of Central Florida, and a host of others to provide needed dental services to those children under the care of the Department of Children and Families," said Dr. Cesar Sabates, President of the Florida Dental Association. "These children often enter the system with significant dental needs. This is just an example of the community service in which many FDA members engage. We documented more than $10 million worth of donated care to Florida citizens last year, and this figure is believed to be a significant under-representation."
This is the latest example of the Florida Dental Association and its individual members offering to help children in foster care. Many dentists statewide have committed to provide services to foster children through DCF's Partners for Promise initiative, which encourages the donation of time, talent and resources to help meet unique needs in Florida's communities. Partners for Promise can be found at www.flpartnersforpromise.com
WHO: Florida Dental Association, Florida Department of Children and Families, Community Based Care of Central Florida
WHEN: June 14, 10 a.m.
WHERE: Gaylord Palms, 6000 W Osceola Pkwy., Kissimmee, FL