“Tribes are sovereign entities and there are cultural differences that have to be kept in mind whenever we do service provision, and it is best done by the tribe itself.”
—John Stephens, dental director of the Swinomish Indian Tribe
By exercising their rights to tribal self-determination, Native American communities have a crucial means of saving lives and protecting their members’ health. Legislators are aware of this. That’s why the House Community Development, Housing and Tribal Affairs Committee held a work session Feb. 25 on the oral health needs and the use of Dental Health Aide Therapists (dental therapists) in Indian Country.
President Obama and Congress have both identified early learning as an important area of investment. The Washington State legislature should do the same and pass and fund the Early Start Act.
Our youngest kids deserve early learning opportunities that spark their curiosity, nurture their potential, and build their resilience. Consensus is growing: these opportunities lay a foundation for a strong future.
But far too many children don't get the early start they need. High quality early learning opportunities are often unaffordable or unavailable to the children who need them.
Children’s oral health matters for their whole bodies, and for the rest of their lives. Because oral health is vital to overall health, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) required insurance plans to take a whole-child approach and include pediatric dental and vision benefits into every health insurance plan sold.
That’s why we’re working hard to make House Bill 2467 into state law.
On Friday, February 7, President Obama signed the 2014 Farm Bill which had been approved by the House and the Senate earlier in the month. The Children’s Alliance consistently opposed passage of this bill because of the harm it will cause to more than 232,000 Washington families – or 33 percent of all families using the Basic Food program. These families already had their food benefits cut in November when everyone – more than 1.1 million Washingtonians – depending on food assistance lost $25-45 in benefits.
From Port Angeles to Pasco, from Walla Walla to Westport, too many of our most vulnerable neighbors are not getting the dental care they need.
When kids have untreated cavities, they spend their time in school dealing with their pain, not paying attention to their teacher. When adults have toothaches and infections, they miss work. For adults who have lost teeth to decay, it can be nearly impossible to find a decent job. Seniors often suffer silently, while oral health problems worsen and make them sick. In many of our communities, our emergency rooms are left to provide expensive, stop-gap care that treats the symptoms, and not the cause of the problem.
Last year, the state took great strides forward in providing insurance for more than 700,000 people in need.