February 12, 2014 —
MONTICELLO, NY — Dr. Maria Escarra, the executive director of the (Philanthropic Relief, Altruistic Service and Development) PRASAD Project in Sullivan County, announced a statistic that demonstrated just how much need there is in the county regarding the dental health of children. She held up a placard which said that statewide, 24% of third graders live with untreated cavities. In Sullivan County, the number is 53%.
Escarra expressed frustration at that statistic because her organization has been providing dental service to children since 1998. PRASAD treats emergencies and emphasizes preventive care. It treats children regardless of whether they have dental insurance, and often for free.
PRASAD delivers services exclusively to children through a mobile dental clinic and makes visits to all school districts in the county and some in Ulster County.
Escarra asked the legislators to help them deliver more treatment to children in need by helping to persuade school districts to enforce a law regarding children’s dental care.
A law passed in 2007 and amended in 2013 requires New York State public schools to request, or ask, for a dental health certificate for students, at the beginning of grades K, two, four, seven, and 10, declaring their dental health condition.
Students will not be denied entrance to school if they are found to be in need of dental health treatment. The hope is the process will motivate parents to seek treatment for their children.
According to their website, “The PRASAD Project is a not-for-profit organization committed to improving the quality of life of economically disadvantaged people around the world. PRASAD is a philanthropic expression of the SYDA Foundation—the organization that protects, preserves and facilitates the dissemination of the Siddha Yoga teachings, worldwide.”