The Jerusalem Children's Free Dental Care Program (JCFDCP) – Goals and Objectives
The Jerusalem Children's Free Dental Care Program (JCFDCP), the HCS flagship program, was established in 1998 to provide primary dental care to children, who enrolled between the ages of 6 and 9, and received free treatment until adulthood. Approximately 12,000 youngsters were enrolled in the program. In addition to a comprehensive examination, x-rays, and a thorough cleaning, the patients receive fillings, root canal procedures, ceramic crowns, and pre-orthodontia when necessary.
In fact, HCS believes that its pioneering work in the field of dental philanthropy was one of the factors that prompted the Israeli Knesset to include dental care for young children in the basket of health services paid for by the government. Today, the JCFDCP is available to eligible children between the ages of 14 and 16.
According to updated figures released by Israel’s National Insurance Institute (NII), Jerusalem was the most underprivileged city in the nation, with 36.6 percent of families living below the poverty line, a rise of three percent over the previous year's level, while nationwide, the number of poor families remained stable at 20.5 percent. In addition, 56.5 percent of the city’s children are classified as poor, exceeding the figure listed for any other region included in the report by at least nine percentage points.
HCS seeks to meet a real and underestimated need in Israel. Cavities and tooth decay are prevalent problems, especially among disadvantaged families who simply find the cost of private dental care an unaffordable luxury. According to the Mayo Clinic, loss of self-esteem can result from broken teeth, tooth loss, closure alignment, or other visible problems while cavities and tooth decay (even in a child’s baby teeth) can lead to chewing problems, pain that interferes with the ability to concentrate in school, and serious infections.
HCS operates two centers, one located in the Bukharan Quarter of Jerusalem and the second in the downtown district with a total of eight dental chairs. A team of 13 dentists (all highly skilled, experienced, and licensed by the Israel Ministry of Health), 3 hygienists, 1 technician and 8 dental assistants treat thousands of patients each month. Of these, nearly one-third (including children, the elderly, new immigrants, and mental health patients) receive significant subsidies.
The JCFDCP is implemented in full collaboration with the Municipality of Jerusalem's Department of Social Services, whose social workers distribute signed, numbered vouchers to particularly needy families in their caseload. Every program participant undergoes a comprehensive examination and X-rays, after which the attending dentist formulates an individualized treatment plan that covers all indicated interventions. In addition, the staff instructs the youngsters in good oral hygiene habits. Each patient is entered into the HCS database for routine check-ups. In many cases, the HCS staff sees that the children influence their parents and older siblings, so that entire families begin to adopt healthier habits.
The most valid means of assessing the overall success and effectiveness of HCS programs is to solicit information from patients and their families, who are periodically asked to complete a survey regarding their experience at the clinic. To ease the transition for patients, many of whom have rarely, if ever, visited the dentist and are understandably anxious, the clinic has developed new forms that provide incoming patients with an explanation of the benefits of their participation in the program. The administrative staff contacts each and every patient to schedule follow-up appointments to complete the planned treatment as well as subsequent check-ups.
Internally, the program's supervisory dentist reviews selected patient cards and treatment plans to ensure that all diagnostic examinations and interventions are implemented at the highest standard. External evaluation is provided by the Israel Ministry of Health, which certifies and supervises the HCS clinics. Furthermore, the Hadassah School of Community Dentistry, and the Dental Department at the Ministry of Health monitor the clinics through periodic on-site visits.
The number of teens who can benefit from the JCFDCP is directly related to the amount of available funds secured. HCS is seeking gifting in the amount of $40,000 to provide vital dental treatment to 100 new patients, at an average of $400 per child. Your support would enable HCS to provide an initial examination, X-rays, treatments, and dental hygienist services to some of the most impoverished Jewish children in Israel.