The Virtual Dental Home telehealth pilot project will bring much needed dental services to hundreds of underserved children in L.A. County, thanks to this exciting collaboration and funding from First 5 LA.
Virtual Dental Home Telehealth Expands to Los AngelesThanks to a $1 million grant from First 5 Los Angeles, more than 450 dental visits have been provided to low-income and special needs children in Los Angeles County Early Head Start and Head Start programs through an innovative pilot project aimed to bring healthcare to underserved people.
Children enrolled in Los Angeles County's Early Head Start and Head Start programs associated with Santa Monica/Malibu Unified School District, Volunteers of America and Westside Children's Center now have a new way to receive dental screenings, assessments, and preventive services thanks to First 5 LA's $1 million grant. The funding supports a new partnership and a ground-breaking telehealth pilot project called the Virtual Dental Home, which makes it possible for hundreds of children to get the dental care they need, with the goal of expanding the model to serve even more children.
Reaching the Underserved of L.A. County
Virtual Dental Home now benefits hundreds of children in Los Angeles County thanks to a collaborative effort between First 5 LA, Westside Children's Center, Santa Monica/Malibu Unified School District, Volunteers of America (which administers Head Start and Early Head Start and California toddler and preschool programs), Venice Family Clinic, The Children's Partnership, the Pacific Center for Special Care and 14 additional service sites throughout the county.
With parental consent, children are examined by a dental hygienist and assistant at the numerous Head Start and Early Head Start centers, like Westside Children's Center, located throughout Los Angeles County. The dental records for these children are uploaded to a secure, cloud-based internet site where a dentist at Venice Family Clinic reviews them and recommends a treatment plan if further care is needed.
According to Dr. Nicole Thompson-Marvel, dental director of the Venice Family Clinic, more than 50% of children entering kindergarten have experienced tooth decay and only about 25% of children on Medi-Cal currently receive preventive dental services.
"I see so many children in the neighborhood with silver teeth," said single-mother Hiliana Murillo, whose two-year-old daughter Valentina is enrolled in Westside Children's Center's Early Head Start program. "This is not going to happen to my daughter."
The Virtual Dental Home system is currently in use at 14 Early Head Start and Head Start sites throughout Los Angeles County, and will be expanded to more sites this year, including Early Head Start infant and toddler sites, as well as two schools within the Los Angeles Unified School District.
A successful sister pilot in San Mateo County has provided care through the Virtual Dental Home to almost 300 children. This partnership provides an opportunity for children enrolled in Early Head Start and Head Start programs to receive oral health screenings, risk assessment, and preventive treatment without having to visit a traditional dental clinic or office unless additional treatment is required. Case management is provided to support families in accessing more care if needed.