KOSCIUSKO COUNTY — Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease, with a greater prevalence being found in families whose income fall below that of the Federal Poverty Level. But it is also one of the most preventable, which is why the Kids Smile Kosciusko program is working hard to address the issue in our community.
Created in 2011, KSK was jointly funded by K21 Health Foundation and the United Way of Kosciusko County and used a combination of education, prevention, and treatment for younger children to try and meet this need. As the United Way and K21 funding period came to an end, KSK asked K21 to provide a grant to extend this program for ongoing services and time to improve the program’s impact. K21 board approved the support going forward.
“While we have seen some success in the education and prevention portions of our program, it seems some parents have been reluctant to take advantage of the funding we have available for treatment for their children,” said Angie Summers, KSK Program Director. “This grant from K21 to extend the program helps us to continue our operations while also gives us an opportunity to look at what improvements can be made to be more effective in helping kids get the care they need.”
KSK has partnered with McMillen Health in Fort Wayne to offer the Brush! curriculum for educational materials for local doctor’s offices, preschools, daycares and other early childhood development programs. They have also worked with local dentists and elementary schools to coordinate prevention measures for children in grades K-3. For eligible children, the program also offers vouchers for local dental providers for needed care and treatment.
“At K21 we believe the Kids Smile Kosciusko program is a great benefit in our community as early oral health is one of the most important issues to a person’s health future. Every child deserves the best chance for success, but it takes a commitment by the whole family to help this happen,” said K21 CEO Rich Haddad. “It is our hope that this grant will give KSK the opportunity to work with local schools, dentists, and community leaders to further develop the program’s effectiveness to better serve our children in the county.”
For more information about the Kids Smile Kosciusko program, please contact the Medication & Dental Assistance Program office at (574) 372-3604 or visit their website.
K21 Health Foundation exists for the benefit of Kosciusko County citizens to ensure health care services are provided, and to advance prevention and healthy living. For more information about the K21 Health Foundation, call (574) 269-5188 or visit online.