Yakima Co Boasts Highest Rate of Getting Dental Services to Kids - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Yakima County Boasts Highest Rate of Getting Dental Services to Kids in Need

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The State of Washington is leading by example when it comes to providing preventive dental care to young children from low-income families. The State of Washington is leading by example when it comes to providing preventive dental care to young children from low-income families.

YAKIMA, WA -- The State of Washington is leading by example when it comes to providing preventive dental care to young children from low-income families.

"That's pretty amazing because when this program started across the state, less than 20 percent of young children were getting dental care," said Kathy O'Meara-Wyman, the Washington State Access to Baby and Child Dentistry Program Managing Director.

Ever since the Access to Baby and Child Dentistry Program started in the early 1990s, more children on Medicaid are getting their teeth cleaned. The program connects low-income families with local dentists and organizations like United Way and WIC keep ABCD going.

"Statewide the average is, we've now tipped over the 50 percent mark," said O'Meara-Wyman. "So we're at 51 percent of all kids from birth to age 6 who are on Medicaid in the state now have access to these services and are actually taking advantage of them."

Out of all the 39 counties in the state, Yakima has the highest "utilization rate" at 65 percent. Franklin County boasts 50 percent and Benton County follows closely behind at nearly 47 percent.

Program directors said the high percentages pay tribute to the capable people in these counties coming together and making something work.

"It's a great Thanksgiving story about the fact that people working together can truly make a difference," said O'Meara-Wyman.

Program directors said they get calls all the time from other states interested in replicating the program. Central Washington could be put on the map for making ABCD such a success.

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