Dental health care for low-income children, or the lack thereof, has been a hot topic in the news headlines lately, last year in particular. In early 2007, the nation focused on a 12-year-old boy in Maryland who died after his untreated tooth infection spread to his brain. Then ABC News reported on a national dental chain serving large numbers of children on Medicaid that provided inappropriate and unnecessary care. And the New York Times ran a story on dental problems in Kentucky and how half the state's children have untreated cavities.
As a result, George Washington University's Rapid Public Health Policy Response Project decided to tackle the issue and in January 2008 came out with a report, Pediatric Dentistry: How Can Dental Care for Low-Income Children Be Improved? The document presents data and other background information on the issue with the goal of educating the public, policymakers, health care providers, and others to promote informed decision-making.
In addition to the background information, the report provides a brief overview of state-level activities across the nation to increase access to pediatric dental care. In Michigan, for example, a single commercial vendor is administering a Medicaid fee-for-service children's dental program; Alabama is administering its own fee-for-service program that included targeted dental case management; and in Vermont, private dental services operate with public subsidies.
The report also highlights the State Action for Oral Health Access initiative, launched in 2002 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Under the initiative, six states-Arizona, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Vermont-are testing and evaluating new strategies for meeting the dental needs of low-income children and adults.
Following the Election
Common Sense Media has come up with a few ideas on getting kids interested in the electoral process as the presidential campaign heats up.
Scholastic.com is a good spot for elementary children to read about the presidential election. Kids can click on a star on a U.S. map to read dispatches from kid reporters.
Factcheck.org is a good site where kids over age 12 can get the information presented by the candidates in their speeches. Hosted by the Annenberg Foundation, the nonpartisan site monitors the TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews, and news releases of all the major candidates.
MTV's RockTheVote.com is a nonpartisan site that works to mobilize young voters.
Did You Know?
While the economic costs associated with child abuse and neglect were $103.8 billion in 2007, only 10% of federal funds dedicated for child welfare (approximately $741.9 million) can be used to strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect.
Source: Total Estimated Cost of Child Abuse and Neglect in the United States, by Prevent Child Abuse America, and Time for Reform: Investing in Prevention, Keeping Children Safe At Home, by Kids Are Waiting, a project of The Pew Charitable Trusts.
Child Maltreatment 2006: This report, released by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, compiles 2006 data on child abuse and neglect from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS).
According to the report, an estimated 3.6 million children who were alleged victims of child maltreatment were accepted by state and local Child Protective Services agencies in 2006. Of these children, an estimated 905,000 were substantiated as victims of child maltreatment, a rate of about 12 per 1,000 children in the United States and Puerto Rico.
The report also provides statistics on preventive services and postinvestigation services to families. In 2006, an estimated 3.8 children received preventive services, such as respite care and parenting education, and 59% of child maltreatment victims and 30% of nonvictims received postinvestigation services. Download the report.
Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) Report #14: This report on national statistics on adoption and foster care for fiscal year 2006 shows several changes from 2005. Positive trends include the number of children in foster care dropping from 513,000 to 510,000, as well as a drop in children entering foster care, which went from 311,000 in 2005 to 303,000 in 2006. The report also states that the number of children waiting to be adopted increased from 114,000 in 2005 to 129,000 on the same day in 2006. The number of children adopted with public agency involvement stayed the same, at 51,000. Read the full report on the Children's Bureau website.
The National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning has put together a webpage with various resources involving health and child welfare. The page includes links about the health and mental health of children and adolescents, including guides, managed care resources, curriculum, teleconferences, and presentations. For more information, click here.
FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention has published a self-administered survey that measures protective factors. The Protective Factors Survey is a pre- and postevaluation tool and measures the areas of family functioning/resiliency, social support, concrete support, nurturing and attachment, and knowledge of parenting/child development. The survey provides feedback to agencies by measuring changes in protective factors and identifying where to focus on increasing individual family protective factors. The site also includes instructions on how to administer the survey and other related resources.
Helping America's Youth, which aims to raise awareness and connections with mentors for at-risk boys, created a Community Guide to Helping America's Youth to encourage communities to further youth-serving efforts. The website details how to form partnerships and make them work, assess a community and connect its resources, and search for youth-serving programs. When searching for programs, users employ a Program Tool to search for programs based on risk factors, protective factors, and keywords to find strategies that can be used in their communities. Data about youth and information on federal youth initiatives are also available online.
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