The Committee on Education and Child Development passed an ordinance that would extend a dental program currently offered at all Chicago Public School students to private or parochial schools that operate in the city. Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced the ordinance to the full Council in April noting that cavities are the single most common disease among children. Agenda.
Committee members present: Chairman Ald. Latasha Thomas (17), Ald. Jason Ervin (28), Ald. Pat Dowell (3), Ald. Matt O’Shea (19), Ald. Walter Burnett (27), Ald. Harry Osterman (48).
Chicago Department of Public Health Deputy Commissioner Jaime Dirksen testified in support of the ordinance and fielded questions from several aldermen on the committee about the City’s current program. According to Dircksen, every CPS school has a designated dentist that provides dental exams, dental cleanings and fluoride treatments. The program is also revenue neutral for the city because it is funded by the state through Medicaid. Dirksen says once the program is brought to the school, it is offered to all students, including those on private insurance.
An average of 115,000 CPS students take advantage of the program every year. Some schools have a 90% participation rate while other schools have a 5% participation rate. Dirksen believes the disparity is due to a lack of consent forms and information reaching parents. Most of those points were made in response to questions from Ald. Harry Osterman, Ald. Matt O’Shea and Ald. Jason Ervin. Ald. Pat Dowell also asked Dircksen to name all of the dental providers that work with CPS. Dirksen responded that 17 contracted dental companies are picked from a competitive RFP bidding process that opens every three years. CDPH Program Director Mary Pat Burgess coordinates the program.
Six aldermen passed the ordinance and requested that CDPH provide the following information by the end of the week: A list of current dental providers (requested by Ald. Dowell), Information on the next RFP (also by Ald. Dowell), and a list of participation rates by schools and by ward (requested by Ald. Ervin).