November 2019 Volume LIV Number 6


Grant Initiatives Story: Homeless Children’s Oral Access to Care

May 2012 Volume XLVIII Number 3

by The Ostrow School of Dentistry of University of Southern California
grantstory2When dental problems like persistent pain, tooth loss and gum disease cause non-stop suffering, it is tough for a homeless woman or man to think about anything else – and even worse for a suffering child.

The Ostrow School of Dentistry of University of Southern California (USC) at the Union Rescue Mission (URM) opened in 2000. Our eight-chair USC/URM Dental Clinic provides comprehensive care to URM guests and neighboring homeless shelters and programs in the downtown Los Angeles area. All services are provided completely without charge. Coordinated by faculty, volunteers, students, and residents from the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC, ours is the only dental clinic on Skid Row to offer care to children.
For years, many USC dental and dental hygiene students have rotated through the dental clinic at the Mission. These students have a wonderful opportunity to serve the homeless population and experience the gift of giving. As our future caregivers, it is our hope that when they finish their training and begin their practices, they will open their doors to those in need in their respective communities.
Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children has supported our Homeless Children’s Oral Access to Care project to provide dental screenings, oral hygiene instructions, dental treatment and distribution of 25,000 oral hygiene kits for homeless children and their families living in Los Angeles’ Skid Row.
Each year the USC/URM Dental Clinic partners with local homeless shelters and programs to provide dental screenings, referrals, and treatment.
In June, the Ostrow School of Dentistry participated in the Countywide Youth Resource Fair in downtown Los Angeles. This Resource Fair is for individuals from birth to age 24 who are under the care of the Los Angeles County Department of Children And Family Services or Probation Department. At this event vital information and resources are shared about a number of important topics including medical, dental and mental health. An estimated 2,000 foster children and their care providers attended this event and received oral hygiene kits.
Each October, we provide approximately 5,000 oral hygiene kits to be distributed by the Fred Jordan Mission on Back To School Day on Skid Row, where thousands of needy children are outfitted with new shoes, backpacks, school supplies and personal hygiene items.
We supply the Union Rescue Mission with approximately 4,000 toothbrushes and toothpaste for each of their annual Thanksgiving and Easter outreach events.
The USC/URM Dental clinic was evident Dec. 15, at the Union Rescue Mission Christmas Store handing out toothbrushes and oral hygiene educational materials to local families as they got a chance to meet Santa and pick out Christmas presents.
These outreach activities throughout the year offers us an opportunity to refer homeless children to our USC/URM dental clinic where our faculty, volunteers and students provide comprehensive, compassionate dental care.

Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children is proud to support The Ostrow School of Dentistry of University of Southern California with a 2011-12 Access to Care Grant Award.