Head Start and Early Head Start health services focus on prevention and early intervention and are based on the premise that a child must be healthy in order to be ready to learn. Good oral health for infants, toddlers and pre-school children serves as a precursor to adult oral health and is essential for a child’s behavioral, speech, language and overall growth and development.
In conformance with Head Start’s philosophy of prevention and early intervention, and identifying possible oral health concerns as early as possible, Head Start requires the following activities must take place within 90 days of entry into the program:
- Determine if a child has an ongoing source of continuous, accessible health care (includes a dental home).
- Obtain a determination of whether a child is up to date according the State’s EPSDT schedule, including dental.
- If a child is not up to date, assist parents in making necessary arrangements to bring their child up to date.
- If a child is up to date, ensure the child continues to follow the State’s EPSDT schedule.
- Develop procedures to track the provision of health care services.
- Obtain or arrange further diagnostic testing, examination and treatment by a licensed or certified professional for each child with an observable, known, or suspected health or developmental problem.
- Develop and implement a follow up plan for any condition identified.
Although follow up plans must be developed and implemented within the required 90 day time frame, treatment services do not have to be completed within 90 days.
At Head Start we effectively promote dental hygiene in conjunction with meals by ensuring the following:
For children age two and over:
Once daily, after a meal, Head Start staff (or volunteers, if available) should assist children in brushing their teeth using a small smear of fluoride toothpaste.
For children between one and two years of age:
Once daily, after a meal, Head Start staff (or volunteers, if available) must brush children's teeth with a soft bristled toothbrush, using a small smear of toothpaste that contains fluoride.
For infants under the age of one:
At least once during the program day, staff or volunteers must wash their hands and then cover a finger with a gauze pad or soft cloth and gently wipe infants’ gums.
We provide two times a year dental screening, prevention and education. For children with oral health necessities, we help families to find out rapid access to treatment by oral health professionals with experience serving preschool-age children