The CARES Program (Counseling, Advocacy, Referral, Education and Service), a nationally recognized collaboration between the University at Buffalo Schools of Dental Medicine and Social Work, was created as an innovative solution to address access to oral health care issues faced by a diverse population in Western New York.
Through the creation, exchange, evolution and application of new ideas, the CARES Program has increased forty fold since its inception and continues to expand in new directions while maintaining three primary goals:
The CARES Program achieve these goals by linking School of Dental Medicine patients with resources including Medicaid, health centers, transportation, care giving assistance, housing and employment.
CARES social workers work collaboratively with patients to help identify their concerns and pair them with the most appropriate community resources.
In addition to assisting patients, an emphasis is placed on expanding the dental curriculum to formally address biophysicosocial concerns that influence the overall well being of patients. Classroom-based, interactional, and clinical educational interventions offered through community outreach events have been developed to enhance dental students' awareness about health and social needs.
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