2020 Healthy Kids Coalition Fund
Legal-name: Assistance League Long Beach
Address: 6220 E. Spring Street
City: Long Beach
Officer-title: President of the Board of Directors
Mission: Assistance League of Long Beach’s (ALLB) mission is volunteers transform the lives of children and adults through community programs.
Title: Executive Director
Grantpurpose: ALLB’s Orthodontic Program provides children and youth from low to moderate-income Long Beach families with high-quality, low-cost orthodontia care they would not otherwise be able to afford.
What-is-project: Since 1969, ALLB’s Orthodontic Program has provided high-quality, affordable care to underprivileged young people with moderate to severe orthodontic problems. The overall goal of the Orthodontic Program is to correct significant dental problems that affect patients’ speech and swallowing, alignment of teeth, and facial development and appearance. This fiscal year, we will maintain an active patient load (patients with braces) at 700, and 300 who receive other supportive orthodontic care, for a total of 1,000 children served annually. Many believe orthodontic care is mostly cosmetic. The truth is that untreated malocclusion, or the misalignment of the teeth, causes unnatural stress on teeth resulting in chipping and premature tooth loss. It can also lead to poor periodontal health. Additionally, children with crooked teeth or bad bites can become self-conscious, developing issues with low self-esteem, which negatively impacts social development and emotional well-being. For instance, a study published in the American Journal of Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics showed that the impact of a poor bite is closely related to their “feelings of self-worth.” The Orthodontic Clinical Director conducts the oral screenings. Each prospective patient’s teeth must meet certain criteria and if conditionally approved, volunteer members evaluate the family’s finances before final acceptance into the program. Screening sessions were previously held six times a year. Because of COVID-19, screenings have changed. Interested individuals are now being incorporated into the regular scheduling system for screening. Since these screenings will be occurring more often, it will allow more patients to begin treatment immediately. X-rays and dental models are done internally (vs. sending outside to other facilities) to further expedite treatment start dates. ALLB’s Orthodontic Program is the only provider exclusively dedicated to orthodontic care for underserved children in the community and is the “safety net” for families who do not qualify for Denti-Cal, have no dental insurance, and are unable to afford the going rate for private orthodontic care. ALLB’s research shows that an estimated 5,000 eligible, low-income youth living in greater Long Beach are not getting the orthodontic help that they need. More specifically, the Orthodontic Program serves children in Kindergarten through 12th grade who live in Long Beach, Lakewood, or Signal Hill, or attend school in Long Beach. Eighty-seven percent (87%) of our patients are Latino/Latina, 6% African-American, 3% Asian/Pacific Islander, and 4% are Caucasian. A majority (76%) of patients are from the 90813, 90805, 90806, 90810 and 90802 zip code areas. All these zip code areas have been recognized as being poverty-stricken areas, with 18% to 44% of the population below the poverty line. Critically, our bilingual staff removes a language barrier to services for children whose parents are monolingual Spanish speakers.
How-will-you-succeed: Outcomes include improved long-term dental health for thousands of children who would not otherwise have had access to orthodontic health services. Additionally, countless parents have told ALLB volunteers and staff that after receiving orthodontic care, their child smiled more often and was more confident in interacting with others, both signs of improved emotional well-being.
Evaluation is embedded into each of ALLB’s philanthropic programs. ALLB’s approach to evaluating the Orthodontic Program uses patient numbers and an evaluation of the fees charged – ensuring the greatest impact on the communities served for the lowest fee possible. The Orthodontic Program also qualitatively evaluates the effectiveness of orthodontic treatment through patient progress notes, study models and x-rays. On an annual basis, a patient questionnaire/survey is conducted to determine areas of success and areas that may need improvement.
To ensure organizational and program sustainability, fund development is embedded into the fabric and foundation of the agency. Fund development/fundraising is ongoing and is conducted in collaboration with internal and external professionals, thus leveraging the expertise of local partners in this effort. All income sources are projected based on past years’ performance. Furthermore, the earned income from the low fees paid monthly by families receiving services complement fundraising to help cover all necessary program expenditures. In addition to fund development strategies, ALLB operates a successful Thrift & Vintage Shop located at 2100 E. 4th Street in Long Beach. Funds raised through the Thrift Shop & Vintage Shop help to support the overhead expenses of the organization. Due to the COVID-19 situation, the Thrift & Vintage Shop (which provides for approximately 25% of total revenues for the organization and programs) closed on March 16 and reopened with necessary safety adjustments on June 16, 2020.
Additionally, recent cost-saving changes to the program will also help to ensure sustainability. Specifically, ALLB now offers onsite orthodontic services (x-ray, diagnostic images, study models), which lowers operational costs, brings all orthodontic procedures under one roof, and as mentioned above, enables staff to closely monitor treatment progress and shorten the time between evaluations of patients and application of braces. ALLB also uses its own retainer-making equipment ensuring that the Orthodontic Program does not have to order retainers from an outside vendor, which also helps to increase sustainability by decreasing third party vendor costs.
And finally, all Assistance Leagues are required to have a reserve equal to one year’s operating budget. As such, ALLB does have such a reserve, and has specific policies and procedures for accessing it. This ensures stabilized service delivery to the community during difficult financial economic situations.
Who-are-you: Founded in 1940, ALLB has provided 80 years of dedicated service to the greater Long Beach community. ALLB’s Executive Director brings nearly three decades of management experience and more than two decades of fundraising experience. With 865 members, ALLB is the largest chapter among the 120 Assistance League chapters nationally, and our “community of volunteers” is the lifeblood of the organization. ALLB serves more than 16,000 unduplicated individuals annually, with approximately 3,000 persons benefiting from two or more programs. In addition to the Orthodontic Program, services provided are:
Operation School Bell – Clothes more than 10,000 elementary and middle school children whose families are low-income and who attend Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) by providing new sets of school uniforms, back packs and school supplies.
Kids on the Block – Enlightens 2,000 students on Alternatives to Violence and Bullies and School Safety through creative, educational puppet theatre.
Howard and Asian Art Collection at the Philanthropic Center – Welcomes and teaches more than 900 seventh graders about Asian history and art through tours of the art collection every year.
Assault Survivor Kits® – Cares for nearly 250 survivors of sexual assault annually by providing “wear home” clothes when their clothing is needed for police evidence.
CAMEO Mentoring Program – Provides one-on-one mentoring for 35 LBUSD high school and Long Beach Community College re-entry career women.
ALa Carte – Brings creative arts and entertainment activities to the bedsides of 2,600 pediatric patients and their families annually at the Miller Children’s Hospital.
Assisteens –Assists children and adults in need through the following programs: Adopt a Family, Feasts from the Heart, Operation Shoe Box, Helping Hands, and Operation Cuddles.
Vocational Training – Trains students from the Adult Transition Program at California State University, Long Beach to work at the Thrift & Vintage Shop to learn work habits, social skills, and develop self-reliance.
Scholarship Program – Awards more than 25 students at California State University, Long Beach and Long Beach City College with financial scholarships and supports the LBUSD vocal music programs.
Launching Literacy Program – Teaches basic reading skills to K-1 students having difficulty learning.
Community support for all ALLB programs is exemplified by a robust list of highly respected program partners. For example, Operation School Bell is implemented through a direct partnership with the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD), which also provides referrals for the Orthodontic Program. To administer our Assault Survivor Kits program, we work closely with the Sexual Assault Response Team in Long Beach, WomenShelter Long Beach, and Interval House. Our CAMEO mentoring program serves students from LBUSD and Long Beach City College, and our ALa Carte program serves patients at Miller Women’s and Children’s Hospital.