Almost 30% of the population in Delano lives below the poverty line. Meaning those children with vision problems may not get the care they need. But officials with the new Vision Center on campus are hoping to help any student that walks through their doors.
Kindergarten through 8th grade students can now get their eyes checked free of charge thanks to the new Vision Center that is part of the Delano Unified School District. Thursday afternoon the red ribbon was cut, and the doors were officially opened for any student in the Delano Unified School District to get their eyes checked. “It’s really gonna fill a gap for those students that need vision care that are uninsured, undocumented, don’t qualify for health insurance or are under insured,” said Linda Hinojosa, the health services director.
This project has been in the works for the last two years. The Delano Unified School District partnered with the local non-profit Advanced Center for Eyecare. The Advanced Center provided the licensed optometrists who give the comprehensive eye exams and glasses to the students free of charge. The school district then received a grant of $250,000 from the independent non-profit called One Sight which helped make the vision center possible. “Statistics show that one in every four children have some time of a vision disability. If we can help those children be able to see it can make such a big difference in their lives,” said Janet Duke, with One Sight programming.
Every student in the Delano Unified School District is prescreened by their school nurse, if the nurse sees something they can’t take care of then the students are referred to the licensed optometrist at the Vision Center during the school day. “To be able to provide vision care right here on the school campus and create comfort with the parents and children to not have anxiety going to the doctor is what we want to do,” said Justin Cave, CEO of Advanced Center for Eyecare. The center is open all school year long on Thursdays and students are shuttled to and from the Vision Center from their school.
Not only is the shuttle free but so is the care. “Just because they live in this zip code they should not be disqualified from receiving adequate care,” said Hinojosa. In the first year officials with the center hope to see over 700 students and eventually hope to help the over 7,000 students in their district. Officials saying that a change in eyesight typically means a change in grades as well. “Any student whether they need glasses or just an annual eye exam we would want to serve that child here,” said Hinojosa. Helping students to see their future, one pair of glasses at a time.