With the COVID-19 pandemic hampering the economy, thousands of Florida families have reached out to LIBERTY Dental Plan’s new “Community Smiles” Program for help in a time of crisis.
Launched in October, LIBERTY’s program helps Florida Medicaid enrollees search for community programs that provide needed food, transportation, childcare or help paying the rent.
“Most of these families never expected to need help, but the pandemic and its economic fallout changed everything,” said Dr. Rosie Roldan, Vice President of Florida Clinical Affairs and Dental Wellness for LIBERTY Dental Plan. “We started this program to help them find the assistance they need to survive. It’s a lifeline for them.”
The Community Smiles Program is the first of its kind at a dental benefits company in Florida. The free program uses the Aunt Bertha platform, which allows people to search for and connect with services from the privacy of their homes.
There have been some 30,000 searches for assistance statewide since the program started. The program is seeing high levels of demand in Miami, Orlando, Jacksonville, Tampa, Tallahassee, Kissimmee, Ocala, and Fort Myers.
In addition to offering the Community Smiles program, LIBERTY is partnering with nonprofit groups like Farm Share to sponsor food distributions and give away hundreds of free dental kits.
“The need is immense,” Roldan said. “Families are struggling with complex problems as well as simple needs. That’s why we want to help however we can.”
LIBERTY offered the Community Smiles program in Florida after successfully piloting the program in California and Nevada. To search for programs on LIBERTY’s website, members can go to https://communityresources.libertydentalplan.com.
Families in need who are not LIBERTY members can find available social services at findhelp.org. Floridians can also go to the website MyFloridaMyFamily.com. A partnership of the Governor’s Faith and Community Based Initiative and the state Department of Children and Families, it also uses Aunt Bertha technology to help families find resources to help them.
In addition to getting help online, LIBERTY members can call or text the company. The staff is trained to deal with not only dental issues, but to assist with social needs and link members with community programs as well. In Florida, LIBERTY members can get help by texting LDPSMILES to 22925 or by calling LIBERTY Member Services at 1-833-276-0850 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday.
“Our Community Smiles program provides help, healing and hope to Florida’s most vulnerable people,” Roldan said. “It is a program that many families urgently need, and that our state cannot afford to lose. Getting through these challenging times will require a partnership of committed individuals, businesses, nonprofits, state agencies and lawmakers. We’re proud to be a part of this critical effort.”