How does a homeless student take care of their mouth and teeth? What happens if they are in pain or don’t have the resources to maintain their smile?
KIND is gearing up for an innovative project to make a real difference for DPS high-schoolers that are sometimes forgotten. The McKinney-Vento HS Oral Health Project will serve students in 9th – 13th (13th graders are students who need a little extra time to graduate due to life circumstances). The McKinney-Vento law ensures students experiencing homelessness have educational rights, and the federal program sets guidelines for public schools for providing resources and supporting students.
With help from the Homeless Education Network (HEN) KIND will be making initial contact with the students and setting up screening times while also completing “motivational interviews” — ideas for maintaining dental health. Educational materials will include not only oral health needs, but whole person support. HEN was awarded an American Rescue Plan grant and KIND will act as the provider for any dental treatment costs/services. Dental hygienists will perform perio charting, oral cancer checks, and fluoride varnish.
After identifying student needs we’ll schedule them at a KIND clinic for treatment. We’ll also utilize KIND Community Dental Health Coordinators throughout the process. These KIND team members work to help students with any resources needed (even outside of dental – including food and clothing).
Michele Carreira, RDH, is a Community College of Denver dental hygiene student who contacted KIND a few months ago regarding an internship. Teresa Ramirez, DPS RDH, and our own Lisa Valdez have been trying to figure out a way to help older HS aged students. After some brainstorming about an internship project, an opportunity was determined to reach a whole different demographic of students. In a co-internship between DPS and KIND the project took life!
Many of these students may never receive any dental education or treatment once they leave the public school system. Supporting these “kids” with healthy smiles along with tools and resources post HS is imperative to their future oral health and wellbeing.
This project is a unique collaboration between CCD, DPS, KIND, HEN and the DPS Patient Assistance Fund Board (who has also donated funding). Our own KIND Board member Rosa Melendez-Nguyen has also been involved throughout. Hoping to continue this model and partnership for years to come!