Isla Vista’s next generation of youngsters were screened for vision, hearing, body-mass index and dental health at I.V. Elementary School this Friday as part of the Child Care Health Linkages Program.
Each year, the CCHLP pays visits to every preschool in Santa Barbara County and hosts an official health fair as part of its mission to provide health screenings and referrals for all state preschool programs in the county. Close to 150 children had their sight, hearing, BMI and dental hygiene tested at the event. This week, CCHLP affiliates will visit Aliso Elementary School, located in Carpinteria.
According to Sandra Cordova, an employee of the CCHLP for the last five years, the organization screens nearly 2,000 children annually. Cordova said CCHLP aims to provide early prevention for low-income families in Santa Barbara by locating doctors and providing medical insurance, transportation and translation assistance.
“The idea is to identify problems and link families to the services that they need,” Cordova said. “It would be impossible to do it without the help of all the agencies that collaborate with us.”
Six health advocates from the county, all affiliated with the program were present on Friday, along with community volunteers. Three local dentists volunteered their time to screen children for oral hygiene and tooth decay.
A part of the Santa Barbara County Education Office, CCHLP is funded by First 5 Service Corps, First 5 Santa Barbara County Children and Families Commission, a local organization that coordinates with groups throughout the county to support the improved well being of children under age five, as well as their families.
Funding from First 5 Services also allows CCHLP to visit county schools in order to inform staff and parents about a new health topic each month. According to Cordova, CCHLP efforts have been well received by local preschoolers.
“Some of these children go to a doctor and they are unable to be screened because they are scared and uncooperative,” Cordova said, “but they know our faces and we are able to screen them and refer them immediately.”
Two years ago, Health Linkages also received funding for a Fluoride Varnish Program, which provides a protective coating for children’s teeth to stop the progression of existing cavities and prevent new ones from developing. Due to the success of this program, Mary Ellen Rehse, Manager of the Oral Health Program said, the health care procedure has been stepped up and is now being extended to county elementary students twice a year.
“The Flouride Varnish program really expanded things,” Rehse said.
Cordova said she values her role as a health care provider.
“I really enjoy my job,” Cordova said. “I consider it a blessing, because I get to help out so many families.”