Program Spotlight: Family Service Center Dental Clinic
Many children and adults in South Carolina go without basic dental care every day. United Way of the Midlands works to fill in the gaps in dental care by funding a program with the Family Service Center to provide free dental services for uninsured children and adults in Richland and Lexington counties.
Since 2008, United Way of the Midlands has provided the Family Service Center with an annual $112,500 grant for their Children’s Dental Clinic. Research shows that children without basic dental care miss a significant amount of school and fall behind academically. Something as simple as a toothache can force a child to do poorly in school, stay at home sick, or even seek care in an emergency room. To be eligible for free services, children must be enrolled in public school and be receiving free or reduced lunch. They cannot receive Medicaid benefits or have other dental insurance coverage. The clinic operates during the school year and the first appointment must be made by the school nurse.
United Way of the Midlands has also provided a $75,000 grant to the Adult Dental program of the Family Service Center. Many families fall in the gap between being unqualified for Medicaid and unable to purchase insurance. These families face tough decisions of whether they should have a dental procedure or put food on their tables. Oral health care is often delayed because of these competing priorities. “They’re having to make choices that they didn’t think they would have to,” said Diane Bouknight, Director of Family Service Center of South Carolina Dental Clinics. “But you have to eat. You have to have a roof over your head. If it were not for this program, there wouldn’t be any place for [these families] to go.”
The Adult Dental Clinic provides dental services such as extractions, cleanings, and simple fillings. Services provided by facilities such as The Family Service Center help patients catch dental issues early, at times preventing a costly emergency room visit. For more information on the Family Service Center Dental Clinics, please contact them at 803.576.2738.