First 5 LA gives Ostrow $18.4 million grant

USC’s Ostrow School of Dentistry received a $18.4 million grant from First 5 LA in support of Ostrow’s dental care outreach to youth in Los Angeles County.

First 5 LA, an organization aimed at optimizing the development and well-being of children  in Los Angeles County from birth to age five, oversees the L.A. County allocation of funds from a 50-cent tax imposed on tobacco products sold in California following the passage of Proposition 10 in 1998. All proceeds from the tax go toward health care, education and child development programs.

One of the principal goals of First 5 LA is to expand health insurance coverage for all children under five years of age who are not eligible for existing plans. The grant, which is the largest in Ostrow’s history, will support the school’s dental care outreach to young children in L.A. County and will also enable the school’s Community Oral Health Programs to help nearly 46,000 disadvantaged children and their families over the next five years.

Portions of the grant will go toward the operation of a new dental facility at the Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center Hub Clinic.

The clinic, run by the Violence Intervention Program, will aid approximately 15,000 children currently in foster care. The grant will also allow the Ostrow school to develop and implement a sedation program at a dental clinic run by the St. John’s Well Child and Family Center.

The grant funds will also be put toward the prevention and further education of oral health problems. In addition to teaching primary care physicians and nurses to spot potential oral health problems and educating dentists on oral problems unique to youth, the grant will allow the Ostrow school to admit two additional residents to its Pediatric Dentistry residency program each year.

One of the program’s primary goals, however, is ensuring children of families in need have access to affordable insurance and dental clinics, according to USC.

Roseann Mulligan, associate dean for community health programs and hospital affairs at Ostrow, said helping families learn about dental health remains her top priority.

“If we can give families with young children information about oral health and help them locate dental homes, we can use education and prevention to stop disease before it starts instead of repairing the damage,” Mulligan said in a statement.