PITTSBURGH, March 28, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- KidsPeace, an organization dedicated to serving the behavioral and mental health needs of children, families and communities, will open a new clinic in May, and introduce a new dental program in the Lehigh Valley. The Highmark Foundation is supporting these efforts by providing a $150,000 grant to KidsPeace to implement the clinic during the next two years in an effort to provide dental care and education to children in Pennsylvania foster and residential care.
"Proper oral health is important to overall well-being. Poor oral health care can lead to additional health complications," said Highmark Foundation President Yvonne Cook. "The Highmark Foundation believes that investing in and addressing oral health and dental care earlier provides opportunities for children to develop good lifelong oral health habits."
The prevalence of dental health problems found among the adolescent population is higher in youth who are identified with physical or mental health issues, have been abused or neglected, are in public or foster care or reside in low-income households without dental insurance. KidsPeace serves children in the Pennsylvania residential care and Pennsylvania foster care programs, many of whom have experienced such issues.
"Early care and education is most important to this population. We are grateful for the Highmark Foundation's generous contribution to support this initiative," said KidsPeace President and Chief Executive Officer, William Isemann. "The new clinic will serve eight to 10 clients per day as well as implementing comprehensive oral health education for residential and foster care youth. Every child and adolescent admitted through KidsPeace PA residential and foster care programs will receive an evaluation for dental health during the intake process. This is a huge step in addressing oral health care."
Sustaining dental health programs and supporting new initiatives to reach greater populations is a focus of the Highmark Foundation. The Highmark Foundation issued grants totaling $1.87 million to 20 Pennsylvania nonprofit dental care organizations to improve the coordination and expand the capacity of those caring for individuals who are uninsured or underinsured.
"Not only are dental grantees demonstrating an ability to make measureable, long-lasting improvements in the oral health of the underserved populations of Pennsylvania, but they are also demonstrating they have power to influence a system of care with far reaching efforts," said Yvonne Cook.
Read the Highmark Foundation's full report, "Working Together: Improving Access to Oral Care and Dental Care for Underserved Populations."
SOURCE Highmark Foundation