October 2021

A Santa Cruz First

Children Receive College Funds for Going to the Dentist

Did you know children from low-income households with savings of just $1-$499 for post-secondary education are three times more likely to go to college—and four times more likely to graduate? Starting children with savings early in life can improve their social-emotional development, a proven predictor of increased academic achievement later in life. College Savings Account programs send all children the message that they have the potential and the support needed for academic success and economic mobility, regardless of where they come from or their family’s finances.

Dientes Community Dental and Santa Cruz Community Ventures (SCCV) have announced a new partnership as part of College Savings Month that provides up to $200 to help parents in Santa Cruz County get an early start on saving for their child’s continuing education. The partnership connects SCCV’s Semillitas program, which provides a college savings account to every newborn in the county, with Dientes’ oral health care to ensure children get a head start on a bright future and bright smile.

Here’s how it works:
Every child born to Santa Cruz County parents after December 31, 2020 receives a gift of up to $50 toward their education in a special Semillitas savings account. Funds will be held in ScholarShare, California’s 529 college savings plan, where parents can monitor its growth. The goal is to have the funds reach $500 by the time a child enters kindergarten. Upon graduating high school, the funds can be used for that child’s college or vocational education at accredited and qualified schools.
Dientes is the first partner to step forward to celebrate oral health milestones with gifts towards a bright future! There are three ways Dientes will contribute to a child’s Semillitas account during milestone visits, including a child’s first tooth or first birthday visit, annual visits (ages 2-5), and sealant visit (age 6).

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Dientes is working to make prevention more common than treatment, and that begins when a child’s first tooth appears. This partnership between Dientes and Semillitas gives parents an extra incentive to prioritize regular dental checkups while investing in their children’s health and education at the same time.
Education and medical care are primary social determinants of health that affect a wide range of outcomes throughout a child’s life. Investing in both early on can improve children’s wellbeing and social-emotional development, which has been a proven predictor of increased academic achievement later in life. Through Semillitas, Santa Cruz County is sending a strong message about the importance of instilling college-going expectations and a sense of hope in families—regardless of a child’s background.

For more information, visit semillitas.org.

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