July 10, 2006

Head Start to offer free dental screenings July 26

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Head Start program will offer free, on-site summer dental screenings later this month.

In addition to the dental screenings, Head Start is accepting applications for weekday morning, afternoon, and all-day programs that begin Aug. 24 in Carbondale, Carterville, Johnston City, Marion and Murphysboro.

The SIUC Community Dental Center, part of the School of Allied Health in the College of Applied Sciences and Arts, will conduct the dental screenings.

The dental screenings are set for 10 a.m. to noon and 1-3 p.m., Wednesday, July 26, at the Carbondale Head Start Center, 1900 N. Illinois Ave.

This is the first year for the dental screenings, said Cathy J. Reed, who oversees the seven Head Start centers in Jackson and Williamson counties.

Every child accepted to the Head Start program for the 2006-2007 school year, including any returning children, must have the dental screenings. Due to a lack of dental providers in the area who accept medical cards, the screenings also help in arranging for further treatment, Reed said.

Performing screenings now "will give us more time to find providers or work out schedules for follow-up treatment," Reed said.

The screenings will consist of dentists looking in each child's mouth to determine if there is a need for additional treatment. Screenings will not include teeth cleaning or fluoride treatments.

Further treatment may be performed at the SIUC Community Dental Center in Carbondale, or if a child requires oral surgery or sedation dentistry, at the SIU School of Dental Medicine or a local dentist in Alton, said Teri S. McSherry, an assistant instructor in the School of Allied Health.

"We will be able to tell at these screenings the children who have severe enough cases that we have to refer to Alton or we can take care of here at the dental clinic," she said.

The examinations will go "fairly quickly." Families have the option of going to another dentist if they choose, come to the clinic, or ask the clinic to help them find another dentist in their area, McSherry said.

Siblings of children enrolled in Head Start and who will be in kindergarten, second grade or sixth grade will also receive free dental screenings. A parent or guardian must accompany the child to the screening, and a copy of a current medical card, if available, should also be provided.

"We try to help the family find a dental home and a medical home," Reed said. "By working with the family we are able to set up an ongoing service for the children."

The Head Start program can serve up to 433 children; the Carbondale Center serves about 170 children with another 17 at the Eurma C. Hayes Child Care Center, also in Carbondale.

Eligible children should be at least 3 years old by Sept. 1 but not old enough for kindergarten. They must have current physicals and immunizations as well as exposure screenings for tuberculosis and lead, and families must provide proof of income.

For more information, call Head Start's main office at 618/453-6448.

Providing outreach programs is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.

The seven centers in Jackson and Williamson counties are:


Carbondale Center, 1900 N. Illinois Ave.

Eurma C. Hayes Center, 411 E. Willow St.


John A. Logan Preschool, 700 Logan College Road

Malone's Preschool, 108 Walnut St.

Johnston City:

Johnston City Center, 901 Prosperity Ave.


Marion Center, 907 N. Vicksburg


Murphysboro Center, 9822 Highway 149.