UW program keeps kids seeing, chewing, walking
Monday, October 14, 2013
The Dental, Eye and Shoe Program — mostly funded by the United Way of Central Missouri — targets children who fall through the cracks of other programs.
“For dental and eye, if the child is not covered by Medicaid and qualifies to receive free lunches or reduced lunches, then they qualify for our program,” said Alena Ward, the program’s president. “The other thing is if they don’t qualify for private insurance.”
She said the Dental, Eye and Shoe Program covers things such as eye exams, dental exams, eye glasses, eye glass repairs and dental work. It doesn’t cover orthodontics.
“We have certain providers within our counties that have agreed to provide services at a reduced reimbursement rate,” Ward said.
The program, which has existed in different forms for nearly 40 years, identifies children through school nurses and teachers.
“They make referrals, and based on where they live and what county, sometimes it’s directly through the school and sometimes the school works directly in conjunction with the county nurse to get referrals to those providers,” Ward said.
The program is run by volunteers and serves Cole, Southern Callaway, Moniteau, Miller and Osage counties.
Ward said the United Way of Central Missouri provides more than 90 percent of the program’s funding. Other funding comes from individual donors.
“Without the United Way, we couldn’t exist,” Ward said.
The United Way is in the midst of it’s Community Campaign, with a goal of raising $1.7 million for its partner agencies, such as the Dental, Eye and Shoe Program.
Ward said the shoe vouchers are the most unique aspect of the program.
“There’s nothing more important or as basic as a good fitting pair of shoes,” Ward said. “New shoes give kids confidence and they can walk down the hallway (at school) with pride.”
Upon referral, kids are given a shoe voucher and they can go to participating shoe stores and pick out a pair of shoes.
Ward said funding is down for the shoe program, which provides the vouchers on a first-come, first-served basis. Last year, the vouchers served more than 1,000 children.
“That program is really the one we hang our hat on, she said. “We’re proud of it.”
For more information about the Dental, Eye and Shoe Program, contact Ward at 761-6204.
More like this story
Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.
Please review our Policies and Procedures before registering or commenting