WIC: Early Entry into Dental Care provides a simple yet powerful solution to the problem of preventing dental disease in low income children. It brings comprehensive preventive dental services directly to vulnerable children. It uses WIC (the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children), a place where very young children and their parents are eminently accessible, as the delivery point for the services. By providing dental care on site at WIC, the program is able to intervene at an age when dental disease can be effectively prevented.
WIC is one of the largest providers of service to at-risk children; more than 60% of all children born in California are served by WIC. Parents who wish to receive WIC services and benefits (such as food vouchers) are required to come to WIC offices for education. They bring their babies as well as older children.
About the program
The WIC: Early Entry into Dental Care program works to build partnerships between WIC centers and dental providers (from public health departments and organizations, safety net clinics, or private practices) who will offer preventive services in these centers. Under the program, dental visits are offered to parents on days when they are already scheduled to pick up their food vouchers. Both infants and older siblings receive a dental assessment and preventive treatments.
While they might receive similar services in a dental office, the greater emphasis of this program on healthy diet and feeding practices for young children make this service integration extremely potent. Parents are counseled about proper feeding and brushing practices, and then referred to a dental provider for follow-up care. Since most children enrolled in WIC are Medicaid-eligible, dental providers can bill for this service and cover much of their costs at no cost to the families themselves.
With the collective experience of our staff and program partners, COH has written the WIC: Early Entry into Dental Care Guidebook as a manual for those interested in establishing their own WIC dental programs. It is free to browse online.