Illinois’ most vulnerable children may have shinier smiles this holiday season. A bill I sponsored and negotiated in the Senate lifting restrictions on dental hygienists, allowing them to perform routine tasks in school-based programs, was sent to the governor.
This important piece of legislation brings Illinois into the forefront of being a caring and compassionate state. Vulnerable children throughout Illinois who have little access to oral health care would be able to receive the attention they need.
A child with rotting teeth who is not eligible for Medicaid or treatment feels the impact on her life, the way she views her life, and her ability to function as a student. Healthy teeth are so important to anyone’s quality of health. This measure is a major expansion of access to preventive care — especially for at-risk children.
I have worked very closely with both the Illinois State Dental Society as well as the Illinois Public Health Association.
Tom Hughes, executive director of the IPHA, has said “the Illinois Public Health Association believes this is an important step to improve access to oral health care for low-income children and adults in Illinois.”
Finally, this was a bipartisan effort in both the Senate and the House showing that Democrats and Republicans can come together for the needs of Illinois’ most vulnerable children. If signed by the governor, we would be able to make strides in preventive care, giving kids the smiles they deserve. It also has the potential to save the state money by making school-based programs run more efficiently.
The measure would also do the following:
• Children under 12 who are eligible for Medicaid or live in a household that is below 200 percent poverty will have access to dental care.
• Allows dental hygienists to provide cleanings, fluoride treatments and sealants in federally qualified health centers, public health facilities, Head Start programs and school-based oral health programs before the dentist conducts an examination.
• Allows a dentist the opportunity to utilize a dental assistant in providing additional preventative services under the direct supervision of the dentist in the dental office.
• Both hygienists and assistants would have additional training requirements and still be under the supervision of the dentists to do the expanded services and maintain the safety of the patient.
Senator William R. Haine, Alton
56th Senate District
I wish to express my deepest gratitude to the people in the Riverbend community for donating athletic shoes for young area athletes.
Since AdVantage News ran the “Quest for cleats” article on Nov. 1, I have received more than 100 pairs of athletic shoes from individuals and businesses. On Dec. 9, Mallory Sports in Wood River called to donate 34 pairs of cleats for area children, an amount that could provide for an entire football team.
I am so humbled with the response from those who have donated and not one person would accept a penny for what they were giving. It’s wonderful to think of the children who can now play a sport they love because they have the shoes needed to play. I don’t want there to be any children in our area who have to sit on the sidelines because they might not have the equipment to play.
People have donated soccer, baseball and football cleats. I’ve received running and tennis shoes. I am finding a place for all of them. I’ve taken the shoes to Roxana and Wood River schools and the Wood River Park and Recreation Department to make sure our area kids have what they need.
I cannot thank everyone enough for your kindness and generosity. I can’t help but think of the Christmas spirit as I see the boxes of shoes stack up for children in need.
I will continue to accept athletic shoe donations and will distribute them to ensure that our area kids are not taken out of the game because they don’t have the proper shoes.
For anyone who wishes to donate shoes, (no money, please), you can reach me at (618) 410-6839 to arrange for me to pick them up.