At Southern Oregon Head Start, childcare reaches beyond the classroom. Our goal is that all Head Start graduates enter kindergarten happy, healthy and ready to learn. For this reason, we offer healthy meal choices, family resources, and free medical and dental screenings and care for all students.

This is Josue’s story.

During a dental screening visit to a Head Start center, our contracted dental hygienist, Melanie, brought in a four year-old boy with big brown eyes named Josue. He was very shy about having his teeth examined. Melanie gently lifted him onto the exam table and asked him to open his mouth so she could see his teeth.

She looked up at the Head Start teacher with tears in her eyes. It appeared that every tooth had severe decay. Melanie gently talked to Josue and asked if any of his teeth hurt. Josue nodded yes.

Josue was an emergency dental referral.

He needed to be seen by a dentist as soon as possible. As he was not covered by any insurance, the Head Start Health Manager contacted Dr. Frimkess, who scheduled Josue in two days.

A family advocate arranged transportation to get the child and his parents to the appointment. Dr. Frimkess found that Josue had 18 teeth that were severely decayed; some needing root canals and crowns. The total cost of the treatment would have been $3,700, but the dentist accepts our reduced fees for service, which came to $2,000.

Because Head Start funding includes a small budget for dental and medical care as “dollars of last resort” when children have no insurance, Southern Oregon Head Start paid the bill.

A smiling boy today.

After treatment, Josue’s teacher reported, “What a difference we have seen in Josue! He smiles all the time. It is such a joy to see him out of pain and playing with his friends. This little boy now talks proudly about taking care of his new teeth that don’t hurt anymore!”

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