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Expanded WIC Reaches More Children with Oral Health
Michigan Ag Connection - 08/11/2017

A successful pilot program is expanding so that infants and children in Detroit, outer Wayne County, Kent County, and Oakland County can start life as healthy as possible, beginning with healthy teeth. The pilot is a partnership effort of Altarum's Michigan Caries Prevention Program, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), McMillen Health, and is funded by Delta Dental Foundation.

In the first year of the pilot program, which ran from February to December 2016, staff at five WIC clinics in Detroit received oral health education training, equipping them with knowledge and tools to educate families on the importance of oral health and its link to overall health. Staff are now able to provide WIC families with oral health education, toothbrushes, and a referral to a dentist based on zip code--empowering them with the resources to help families navigate early access to oral health care and prevention.

The expansion of this pilot will significantly increase its reach. In the program's first year, it included five of the busiest WIC clinics in Michigan, which see about 10 percent of Michigan's WIC participation of children and infants. An additional 46,000 children, or 20 percent of the state's WIC participation, will have access to the program in year two --spreading education, knowledge, and healthier smiles across the state. New clinics started their pilot efforts in April 2017, and the year two funding continues to support the clinics from the first year.

"The WIC program is a well-known and trusted community resource which provides services to low-income pregnant women and those with infants and children," said Teri Battaglieri, Delta Dental Foundation director. "As such, WIC staff play an integral role in helping mothers learn about the importance of good oral health, the Healthy Kids Dental program and how to find dental care for themselves and their children."

"We are tremendously excited to be expanding this successful pilot that provides free training and resources to WIC clinics, says Amanda DeLandsheer, Program Coordination Lead for the Michigan Caries Prevention Program. "This will enhance WIC program staff ability to provide high quality, coordinated care to Michigan families."

"This pilot has received overwhelming positive feedback from WIC staff and families, who have been receptive, responsive, and grateful for the additional training," says Stan Bien, Director, Michigan WIC Program, MDHHS. "We are excited to have the opportunity to grow this program beyond Detroit, so that thousands of additional children across Michigan will be able to have healthier smiles, and healthier lives."

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