United Way of Northeastern Minnesota (UWNEMN)’s move into a larger building last year meant more options to offer programs and services, and the newest inhouse program to be added is the “Smiles United” dental program for Iron Range and Koochiching County children.
Through a partnership with Children’s Dental Services, “Smiles United” provides free and reduced-cost dental care to uninsured and under-insured children in the UWNEMN service area. This partnership has been ongoing for years, previously run in local schools as “Smiles Across Minnesota.”
When “Smiles Across Minnesota” was at risk of losing funding, UWNEMN and Children’s Dental Services quickly identified ways to not only keep the program but to expand on it. This summer, under the new name “Smiles United,” the dental program operated for the first time out of the UWNEMN building in Chisholm.
UWNEMN Executive Director Shelley Valentini said the new use of the organization’s office space has been running smoothly.
“We are ecstatic to find another use for our new building,” Valentini said. “Children’s Dental Services operates so professionally, and for a couple days each month they’ve transformed our conference room space into a legitimate dental office.”
For Children’s Dental Services, this opportunity to reach Iron Range and Koochiching County children during summer months is an asset to the region.
“These preventive measures have such a long-term impact on a child’s future dental health and overall well-being,” said Sarah Wovcha, executive director of Children’s Dental Services.
Once the school year starts, “Smiles United” will operate in the same fashion “Smiles Across Minnesota” did. Schools will send out consent forms, parents will sign and return, and registered children will receive dental care – including screenings, fluoride treatments, cleanings, and more – in the schools. For more details on “Smiles United,” click here.