In 2019, following a series of traumatic events, E and her mother fled their country and received a pardon to come to the U.S. for safety. Shortly after arriving, E was brought to a Head Start Center and enrolled. One of her teachers noticed she was having difficulty eating. Because of the Head Start Smiles project and collaborations with local dentists, E quickly received an exam which showed significant decay. It took nearly a dozen appointments but when they were finished, E’s smile was transformed into a bright and healthy one. The intervention not only prevented a lengthy dental surgery, it changed E’s life. Pain free, E now enjoys eating, playing with friends, and being a happy child.
Gifts made to the Head Start Smiles project provide a way for children like E to get the preventive and restorative dental work they need. They support families like E’s who have limited or no insurance or ability to pay. And they make a positive and lasting impact.
What is Head Start Smiles?
OACAC’s Head Start Smiles campaign is an annual effort to ensure enrolled Head Start children in Southwest Missouri have access to a dental exam, preventive care, and needed restorative dental work. Head Start provides comprehensive early childhood and family development services to low-income families at or below 100% of the Federal poverty guidelines. Of the 572 children currently enrolled in Head Start, many are uninsured or under insured.
Who does the Smiles project help?
Head Start serves children ages 0-5. Strategies used to promote oral health include teaching practices to engage children, integrating oral health into activities, and engaging parents in promoting oral health at home.
Teaching children and parents about oral health throughout the program year is a valuable service that Head Start provides. Helping low-income children receive the dental care they need, helping prevent multiple appointments like E had, is a gift made by generous donors. Your gift in any amount - $5, $10, or even $1 for each tooth you have ($32) - makes a difference. Thank you.
Donations can be made online or by sending a check to:
c/o Head Start Smiles
215 S. Barnes
Springfield, MO 65802