Yesenia Chavez Medina with her 4-year old son, Miguel Angel, ready for his dental check-up at one of Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo’s dental clinics.
Yesenia Chavez Medina had just moved to Westmorland, Calif. when she attended a presentation on children’s oral health led by two community health workers (CHWs) from Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo (CDSDP)—a Federally Qualified Migrant Health Center in Brawley, Calif. Supported by Red Nose Day Fund in 2016, the health center is part of the National Council of La Raza’s Healthy and Ready for the Future initiative which provides a healthy start in oral health and early education for Latino children from migrant and seasonal farmworker families across rural America.
While the CHWs, Cecilia Cota and Ana Solorio, discussed the importance of taking care of children’s oral health, the message struck Yesenia to her core. She considered herself a responsible mom, diligent about her children having health insurance through Medi-Cal and a stable family life despite having to move around as a migrant farmworker. Yet, she realized she had neglected their teeth. She feared her youngest sons, Miguel Angel, 4, and Jose Luis, 11, had cavities because they “sometimes complained of pain in their mouth or had what looked like rotting teeth.” Yesenia spoke with Cecilia and Ana, who helped schedule appointments.
NCLR’s Institute for Hispanic Health (IHH) recently hosted six Affiliates at a kick-off meeting for Healthy and Ready for the Future, an initiative aimed at improving the oral health of Latino children living in rural communities, especially those from migrant and seasonal farmworker families. NCLR is partnering with Affiliates that are either Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) or community-based organizations with Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) programs. Our partners will build upon their work of linking children to a medical or dental “home”—such as primary health care or dental providers— that can provide ongoing care. Coming from California, Arizona, Texas, Florida, and Washington, the Affiliate partners have a wealth of experience serving low-income Latino children and families in rural areas.
MSHS programs provide an array of vital services to 34,000 children from migrant and seasonal farmworker families every year. FQHCs and Community Health Centers often serve as a medical and dental home for these children and strive to improve the health of underserved communities and vulnerable populations by providing access to quality care. Aside from increasing access to early oral health care for children, Healthy and Ready for the Future will launch a culturally sensitive, bilingual outreach and education campaign to boost awareness of how important it is for families to get early preventive oral health care and establish a dental home for their children.