This Project is Funded by First 5 LA

Children's Health and Maintenance Program (C.H.A.M.P.) Our Achievements & Testimonials

Navigating Systems and Meeting Families Needs

A single mother and her two children, a four-year-old boy and his twelve-year-old brother, visited a Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) center in South Los Angeles, which is a CHAMP community outreach site. CHAMP team personnel approached the mother to inform her about CHAMP and the free dental services available to the young boy.  She expressed interest in enrolling the four-year-old child, so a CHAMP team member provided her with oral health education while the child received a dental screening. The CHAMP dental provider diagnosed the child with severe tooth decay and early childhood caries. The team dentist also performed a dental prophylaxis and applied fluoride varnish to help relieve the child’s tooth decay pending a referral to a CHAMP dental home partner. CHAMP personnel referred this family to the QueensCare Mobile Dental Program for treatment of both children.

The family was also assigned to a case management team comprised of a social work intern and a benefit enrollment specialist to help address a complexity of problems.  The benefit enrollment specialist scheduled the initial dental appointments for the children at QueensCare, while the social work intern addressed the family’s need to connect to resources beyond dental care. The mother shared that their household income came solely from disability benefits, limiting her ability to provide other basic needs for her children. She did not think they qualified for Medi-Cal.

Both boys received dental care at QueensCare, but due to the severity of the decay in the four-year-old, he had to be referred to the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry for specialty services at the pediatric clinic. The family was also referred to the Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) to apply for Medi-Cal.

By providing a free dental screening for the four-year-old child at the WIC site, the CHAMP team not only identified severe tooth decay, linked the entire family to a dental home, and made a referral for specialty care, but also worked with the mother to address other barriers that had prevented her from seeking dental care for both her children.  The CHAMP benefit enrollment specialist assisted the family in accessing specialty services, which the four-year-old child so desperately needed, and the social work intern provided resources for barriers to care. Fortunately, the family’s home is located in close proximity to USC’s Pediatric Dental Clinic where the child is received specialized dental treatment.

Now that the young boy is enrolled in CHAMP as an established patient, CHAMP will follow the progression of his dental care, provide oral care service reminders, and be a resource to the entire family. Through CHAMP, the mother has found a dental home for the children and regularly receives reminders that will help improve her children’s oral and overall health. While the four-year-old’s more serious dental problems had to be treated at USC’s Pediatric Dental Clinic, the Queenscare Mobile Dental Program can now serve as both children’s dental home where they will be provided ongoing dental care and treatment.

Stories like this are a hallmark of CHAMP’s work in underserved communities throughout LA County. Understanding the importance of oral health care and navigating the dental care system can be a daunting experience for anyone, and even more so for families with limited economic means and language barriers. First 5 LA’s funding makes all of this possible. Starting with the recognition that oral health disease is preventable and a mission to improve oral health in the community through direct service and education, First 5 LA’s commitment to invest public funds in the oral health of young children in the Los Angeles community and partnership with service providers has a direct and tangible impact on individuals, families, and communities.