Sonoma County Children’s Center Hits Milestone With Dental Program For Kids

A program that provides free dental care to Sonoma County children has hit a milestone that is making everyone smile.

A partnership between Valley of the Moon Children’s Foundation and the Sonoma County Human Services Department that provides free dental care for kids has now served more than 1,000 children.

The county operates Valley of the Moon Children’s Center.

The partnership, which created the program in 2011, has announced that it has now provided dental examinations and follow-up care to more than 1,000 children entering emergency foster care in Sonoma County.

Children are placed in emergency foster care to protect them from abuse or neglect by a parent. They receive medical, mental health and dental assessments during their stay at the Valley of the Moon Children’s Center.

“Some of our newly admitted children have never seen a dentist before,” said Dr. Jack Sherman, fondly known as ‘Dr. Jack’ by the kids. “Not only are we looking for issues like cavities, but we develop comprehensive dental treatment plans. These cover the gamut of dental disease from basic oral hygiene to comprehensive restorative, endodontic, and orthodontic care. We teach each child basic dental skills and instill attitudes that will serve them for a lifetime. Personally, working at Valley of the Moon has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my 50-year career.”

After receiving initial dental care when they arrive at Valley of the Moon Children’s Center, many of the children move on to foster homes. Sometimes children return to the dental clinic for follow-up care and continue to receive education on dental hygiene.

“When the Valley of the Moon Children’s Center opened its current facility in 2006, it was part of the dream to provide onsite dental care for children in emergency foster care,” said Meg Easter-Dawson, the center’s program development manager. “The realization that we have been able to serve more than 1,000 children through the program means dreams really do come true. The link between dental health and overall health is well documented and being able to provide dental care to at-risk youth in a caring setting is an invaluable service.”

“We are also giving the children trauma-informed care, since many of them are coming from difficult situations,” Easter-Dawson said. “This would not have been possible without support from our community, and the dedication and compassionate care that Dr. Jack provides for every child.”

The dental program began in 2011 after the Valley of the Moon Children’s Foundation Board of Directors supported fundraising efforts to build and fund two on-site dental operatories in the center’s medical wing. These operations contain state-of-the-art dental equipment to provide a multitude of emergent and basic dental needs for foster youth.

The foundation not only contributes to the dental program but also pays for field trips, birthday parties for youth housed in the shelter and scholarships for former foster youth. Learn more about these programs, or make a donation, at vomcf.org/dental-program.

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