“The first few years of a child’s life make a world of difference, shaping who he or she will become, what he or she will achieve and how he or she will contribute to society as an adult.” -Kelly Stupple, Child Health Advocate
Washtenaw County is blessed with a high standard of living, tremendous educational opportunities, world-class health care and a richly diverse population. For Kelly Stupple, Child Health Advocate at Washtenaw Success by 6 Great Start Collaborative, those virtues also come with a host of challenges, especially for the county’s most underserved residents. One of those challenges is securing and maintaining health and dental care for low income and uninsured children and families.
Success by 6 Great Start Collaborative focuses on providing ALL children with the tools needed to succeed by kindergarten. Among the barriers to their success, however, are chronic health conditions like asthma and obesity, trouble accessing primary care, lack of immunizations and gaps in health coverage. That’s where Kelly fits in. As Child Health Advocate, she’s like a health care GPS, helping qualified families locate and retain the publicly funded health insurance and other resources they need to maintain good physical, emotional and dental health. She also troubleshoots for at risk families, from helping locate transportation and emergency housing to childcare referrals and nutritional assistance.
Among the programs supported by United Way is the Great Start Smiles Oral Health Program, a robust initiative promoting good dental hygiene and fluoride varnish protection. United Way funds the cost of the program’s dental hygienist. This standalone program — and the statewide Healthy Kids Dental Program — is proactive, preventive efforts that teach healthy habits for a lifetime. Key to their success is growing dentist participation, thanks to Medicaid and state reimbursement that approximates Delta Dental insurance rates.
Another priority for Kelly is prenatal care, which lays the groundwork for a healthy future. Unfortunately, many obstetricians practice in affluent, NOT low-income communities. This poses a serious threat to the underserved including a disabled client whose high-risk pregnancy requires close medical attention. With her Medicaid discontinued — and her income limited — her OB refuses to see her. “She is trying to have a healthy pregnancy. I’ll do whatever is necessary to get her the care she, and her baby, deserve.”
That commitment is at the very heart of Success by 6 Great Start Collaborative.