Pasco Kids First has launched a new bilingual oral health navigation program benefiting children and families in Pasco and Hernando counties thanks to a grant from the Florida Blue Foundation. Through the new program a bilingual Oral Health Navigator, Julissa Cantillo, will provide in-home education visits with families in the Healthy Families Pasco-Hernando program as well as guidance to families seen at the Children’s Advocacy Center.
In addition to providing free education about oral health and the importance of establishing a routine of caring for your teeth at a young age, the Oral Health Navigator will also link parents and children to appropriate dental providers for prevention visits and needed treatment. Pasco Kids First is partnering with Premier Community HealthCare and the Pasco County Health Department to provide assessments and treatment for kids and their parents at no cost to the families.
“Research shows that poor oral health has an effect on overall health,” said Becky Bennett, Director of Development of Pasco Kids First. “Having an Oral Health Navigator educate families and link them to dental providers will make an impact on missed work and school days and reduce the number of visits to the emergency room due to a tooth ache.”
The $283,553 three-year grant from the Florida Blue Foundation will allow the Oral Health Navigator to provide assistance with treatment costs as well as transportation to appointments when it is a barrier for families by providing bus passes or scheduling Uber rides.
“Our mission is to help people and communities achieve better health. As we see the number of visits to the emergency room for dental pain and oral health issues skyrocket across the state, it’s important that we start the habit of good oral health at a young age,” said David Pizzo, Florida Blue Market President, West Florida Region. “The Pasco Kids First program will help build a foundation of good oral health for children and families in Pasco and Hernando counties that can benefit their overall health for a lifetime.”
Pasco Kids First has been serving children and families in Pasco County for 29 years and Hernando County for 11 years by providing services addressing child abuse and neglect. The programs include prevention, assessment and treatment services. For more information about Pasco Kids First, please visit www.pascokidsfirst.org.
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