Bridging the Gap for a Healthy Smile
Because of You, Aria had access to help when she needed it most.
Sometimes you can do everything right, and still face obstacles that you don’t know how to navigate alone.
Even with both parents working full time, Cherish and Jordan still fell below the poverty line and struggled to make a better life for their family. Finding Early Head Start (EHS) as a daycare option for their daughter Aria was more than a gift, it was a blessing to all of them. Because of you, support was ready and waiting to care for this family. Here Cherish and Jordan found a support system of advocates who wrapped around their daughter and help chart a path to make sure she had access to the resources she needed.
Cherish and Jordan knew getting their daughter Aria a healthy start in life was important. They faithfully took Aria to all medical well check visits and got her immunizations as well as focused on nutrition. Cherish insisted on breastfeeding until she could eat solid foods and avoided bottles of juice, striving to give her the healthiest start in life in every way they could. Both parents knew they needed to work full time to care for Aria and her siblings. And the pandemic added another level of stress to keep working and have reliable child care. But with combined income Cherish and Jordan were still falling below the federal poverty level and could not afford child care for Aria. That’s when they found Early Head Start that provided free, full-time childcare and so much more. Your gift made this possible and eased a burden of stress for this family.
A few months into care, Cherish expressed concerns to the EHS teachers and staff that something was happening with Aria’s teeth. She had tried to find a dentist to take her to – but could not find someone willing to conduct a full exam on a toddler and take Medicaid.
This was not a new struggle EHS staff were hearing – it was a definite gap in the community to reach children ages 0-3 with regular oral health screenings. This preventative care would help low-income families have a proactive approach to dental health and reduce the risk of abscess, infection, and hospitalization. EHS Health & Disabilities Manager Kristen Williams, MPH, and Dr. Janna Laverdiere with Johnson Health Center got to work on a collaboration to prevent more young children falling through the cracks. By fall of 2022, pediatric dentists from Johnson Health Center brought a Mobile Dental Unit directly to EHS centers in Lynchburg and Bedford. Because of your support, every child’s cost was covered so they could receive dental care no matter what the family’s coverage allowed.
Thanks to your gifts and this collaboration with Johnson Health Center, all EHS students and their families will have the oral health screenings they need to ensure overall better health and wellness.
Aria was able to see a dentist for a full exam during her day at EHS – and her teacher walked with her through the visit every step of the way. Through this examination, the dentist confirmed Cherish’s concerns. She was shocked to find significant, severe decay in nearly every tooth. With no apparent cause, the dentist gave an immediate referral to UVA Pediatric Dentistry. The dentist shared her own gratitude that this child had access to care at the right time. Without intervention, the risks for Aria’s health would have only grown exponentially.
Because of your support, EHS staff can find gaps like this in our community and work to create solutions. Your gift ensures that our staff can meet the needs of families, help overcome barriers to better health, give better access to resources, and ultimately find a better path for life.
Aria is on the road to better health and receiving the care she needs. Oral surgery is scheduled for next month; Cherish and Jordan (above with Aria and her siblings) are at ease knowing that her care team has a plan to improve her oral health.
You transformed Aria’s life, and have given her a great head start — she’s overcoming early obstacles because of you! Without you, she would have had a very different journey ahead. Every day there are children, who much like Aria, need someone to advocate and walk with them to navigate challenging obstacles. Because of you and your support, help and resources are ready and waiting for a child in need.
Learn more about the Early Head Start program at HumanKind by visiting here.