Schools fitting needy kids for braces

April 7, 2008 9:00:00 PM PDT
Lots of kids need braces. But they're very expensive. Now an orthodontic clinic has opened inside a school -- giving needy students a shot at super smiles. Eyewitness News reporter Carolina Leid explains.

Randy Escabi is a student at Salome Urena Henriquez Campus in Washington Heights. And today's a big day for him -- he's getting prepped for braces.

But Randy won't be missing much school, his orthodontist's office is just down the hall

He's ready for his new look.

"New teeth...looking better," student Randy said.

Meanwhile, the hardware is already being placed on Jessica Javier's teeth.

She'll wear braces for about two years. She says it's worth the wait.

"Before I didn't like to smile that much becuase I was worried my teeth would come out crooked. Now when they take it off I won't have to worry about it," student Jessica said.

Jessica's the first student to get braces at "House of Smiles."

This orthodontic clinic is run by the Children's Aid Society in partnership with the New York City Department of Education and St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.

Children's Aid provides health services at more than 20 schools in the five boroughs and says its new orthodontic clinic is the first in the country.

"This is precisely for kids who can't afford it. If not for our service here, a lot of kids would go untreated,"

The clinic provides orthodontics for kids in need at the three middle schools located on campus.

Medicaid is accepted. However, if families don't qualify for that insurance, a reduced fee and payment plan is available, to ensure that neighborhood children can get the right care to keep them smiling.

"It's hopefully, psychologiaclly making them feel better about themselves and they feel very happy and very grateful,"

Jessica says she always felt self conscious when having her picture taken. Now, she's ready to smile and show off her new, hot pink braces.

Again, there are plans to expand the program to include underprivileged kids in other city schools and community centers served by the Children's Aid Society.

The cost for needy families who don't qualify for medicaid is well below the standard cost.

For more information on this program click here for the Children's Aid website.