Dental nonprofit aims to expand service to Northland kidsJust Kids Dental Inc. hopes to hire six more employees this year and serve an additional 400 students.
By: Jana Hollingsworth, Duluth News Tribune
Cuts to Medicaid have prompted a local dental nonprofit to launch a fall campaign for money.
Just Kids Dental, founded in 2006 by Two Harbors dental hygienist Stacey Anderson, serves about 1,600 students a year in area schools with teeth cleanings and other preventive care. The organization held a kick-off for its campaign Tuesday with Mayor Don Ness proclaiming the day “Just Kids Dental Day.”
“It’s a constant struggle for families in the Northland to find dental care,” Ness said. “With kids, dental care is such a preventive measure.”
Anderson said more than 51 million school hours are lost each year in the U.S. because of dental-related problems, which leads to increased educational disparities.
“Dental disease is the No. 1 disease facing children today,” Anderson said, and Just Kids Dental provides preventive care and education “to the kids who need it most … so kids can stay out of pain and enjoy the summer and learn in school.”
Wisconsin and Minnesota students enrolled in Medicaid programs or who are eligible for free or reduced lunch and are uninsured can receive dental services at their school if it’s served by Just Kids Dental. The program serves the Lake Superior school district, Proctor, Carlton, Cloquet, Moose Lake, Douglas County and Cromwell/Wright schools. The Duluth school district works with a different program.
The organization hopes to hire six more employees this year and serve an additional 400 students. It wants to raise $25,000 during the campaign, which ends with a silent auction at Grandma’s Sports Garden Oct. 20 that will be held along with a Jungle Boy Boxing Gym event. Zach Walters, owner of the gym, has teamed up with Just Kids Dental, along with Benna Ford, which provides vehicles for the dental workers to travel to schools. The dental group has done $2 million in services since it began.
To help, visit justkidsdentalinc.org.