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As the fall weather gets into full swing, bringing cooler temperatures and shorter days, families begin to look forward to the holiday season. Halloween is a favorite for children, who get to dress up and go trick-or-treating. The American Academy of Pediatrics has tips on dressing your child for the occasion, ways to make your home safe for trick-or-treaters, how to keep your child safe while they make the rounds in the neighborhood and healthy eating.

Some of these tips include:

  • Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives.
  • Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure that shoes fit well and costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, getting tangled or contact with a flame.
  • Small children should never carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers and then parents can do the cutting.
  • Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest.
  • A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.
  • Only let children go to homes with a porch light on, and they should never enter a home or car for a treat.
  • A good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
  • Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.

You can view the full list of tips here .
Fall is also a good time of the year for parents to consider making an appointment with their child's doctor for an influenza (flu) shot as the traditional flu season begins to pick up. According to the Florida Department of Health (DOH), the flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. The best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine each fall. If your child does get sick, here are some symptoms of the flu to watch out for:

  • Body aches and pains
  • Cough and chest discomfort which may become severe
  • Early and significant exhaustion
  • Fatigue and weakness that may last up to 2-3 weeks
  • Headache
  • High fever (102-104 degrees F) for 3-4 days
  • Occasional stuffy nose, sneezing and sore throat
A Special Message from Florida KidCare on Hurricane Michael:

We know that Hurricane Michael has caused a lot of stress on many Florida families. Stress often impacts children in many of the same ways as adults. Here is some information on how to help children deal with stressful situations:

Helping Your Child Cope

Impact of Trauma in Preschool and School-Age Children
Children who have experienced traumatic events may experience problems that impair their day-to-day activities. Children who have experienced traumatic events may have behavioral problems, or their suffering may not be apparent at all. It is important to be aware of both the children who act out and the quiet children who do not appear to have problems. These children often “fly beneath the radar” and do not get help.

Behaviors to look out for:
  • Separation anxiety or clinginess towards teachers or primary caregivers
  • Lack of developmental progress
  • Regression in previously mastered stages of development
  • Difficulty at naptime or bedtime
  • Re-creating the traumatic event or worry of re-occurrence
  • Changes in appetite or increased distress
  • Changes in behavior (e.g., unexplained absences, angry outbursts, decreased attention)
  • New fears
  • Statements and questions about death and dying
  • Anxiety, fear and worry about safety of self and others

What parents can do:
  • Talk to your kids about your own feelings and encourage them to share their own. Let them know it is okay to feel confused or scared, but do not get mad if they do not want to talk about it.
  • Help your kids do things that make them feel calm, help them get back into a routine and have fun again.
  • Remind your kids about the things they do to stay safe and take care of themselves. Help them remember all of the people who take care of them and will help them stay safe.
  • If possible, do not make them go to places if it still makes them too upset or scared.

Tips for Parents on Media Coverage
Media coverage can produce increased fears and anxiety. Graphic images and news stories of chaos, injury and death is especially upsetting to children. Very young children may not understand that the coverage and repetition of images of the events is a replay. They may think the event is continuing to happen or is happening again.

What parents can do:
  • Limit your kids exposure to media coverage
  • Watch and discuss with kids/teens
  • Monitor adult conversations
  • Let your kid/teen know about successful community efforts
  • Educate yourself
All About the Common Cold
Brought to you by Staywell Kids
The #1 reason people miss work and school is the common cold. Most adults get two or three colds each year, and kids get sick more often than that. Symptoms include sore throat, runny nose, coughing, sneezing, headaches and body aches.
About Colds
Certain viruses cause colds. They are spread through:
  • The air
  • Close personal contact
  • Contaminated surfaces
Protect yourself against cold viruses. Follow these tips:
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • Keep your distance from others who are sick
Protect others
Keep your family and friends healthy. If you have a cold, stay home. Also:
  • Avoid shaking hands or kissing others
  • Cough or sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue
  • Wash your hands after you cough, sneeze or blow your nose
  • Disinfect surfaces you touch
When to see a doctor
A cold typically lasts 7-10 days. If your symptoms last longer than that, call your doctor. Always get help right away if your child is younger than three months and has a fever.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Washing your Hands the
Right Way
Brought to you by Aetna Better Health of Florida

Do you spend enough time at the sink? Washing your hands often helps avoid germs that can make you and your family sick. But in order for it to work, you have to know how to wash your hands correctly. Follow these steps:

  1. Wet your hands together with running water (cold or warm). Apply some soap.
  2. Turn off the faucet and rub your hands together. Get them good and soapy.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. (That's about how long it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" twice.) Be sure to scrub all over. Do not miss the backs of your hands and in between your fingers.
  4. Rinse your hands well under running water.
  5. Dry your hands with a clean towel. If you are using a public bathroom, there may be an air dryer you can use.

Here are some important times to be sure to wash your hands:
  • Before handling food.
  • After using the toilet, changing a diaper or taking out the trash.
  • Before and after caring for a sick person.
  • After you cough, blow your nose or sneeze.

When soap and water are not handy, you can use a hand sanitizer that contains alcohol. You can buy some in small bottles to carry in a bag or purse or keep in the car.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Preventistry Matters
Brought to you by DentaQuest, Inc.

A Little Each Day, Keeps the Tooth Decay Away
Xylitol (pronounced zy-lih-tall, or more properly ky-lih-tall) is a natural sugar alcohol gaining a lot of attention from oral health experts today. The bacteria that live on your teeth cannot tell the difference between xylitol and sugar. Neither can most humans, since the molecule is so similar to normal sugar and does not have a bitter aftertaste. Consuming a little bit of xylitol a few times each day has been shown to reduce tooth decay, and you can find it in gum, mints, chocolate and even in granulated form. Check with your dentist or hygienist about how much xylitol you should ingest every day to improve your oral health. Learn about the benefits of chewing sugarless gum after meals. Check out a video from Dr. Brian Novy.
A Note of Caution to Dog Owners
Xylitol is  extremely  toxic to dogs. Even small amounts of xylitol can cause hypoglycemia, seizures, liver failure or even death. Keep all products containing Xylitol away from your dog.

Author: Dr. Brian B. Novy, Director of Practice Improvement at DentaQuest Institute and President of the DentaQuest Oral Health Center
Diabetes and Your Oral Health
Brought to you by

Diabetes affects both adults and children. This disease changes the way your body makes and uses insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps your body turn sugar and other food into energy.* Too much sugar builds up in the blood when your body does not have enough insulin or cannot use it properly. The sugar causes many different types of problems to develop, including problems in your mouth.** Good daily habits at home are key to good oral health for people with diabetes. You should brush at least 2 times a day and floss. It is also important to visit your dentist every 6 months for a regular check-up and dental cleaning.
Follow these tips to make sure you have a great visit with your dentist:***

  • Be ready to talk with your dentist about your blood sugar. You will need to be able to talk about your daily test results.
  • Make your dental appointment for the morning.
  • Eat a healthy meal before your appointment.
  • Take any usual medicine at the proper time. Do not forget or skip it!
  • Tell your dentist about any changes to your health since your last visit. This could include things like your diet and your symptoms.
Healthy Snacks for Your
Children's Teeth
Brought to you by

Summer is over and it is officially back to school! Besides brushing and flossing, are your children eating a balanced diet to maintain their beautiful smiles? No child wants to eat raw broccoli and plain celery sticks, so pack them tasty snacks that they will enjoy and are good for their teeth.

According to the American Dental Association, low-fat dairy foods, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy protein sources, such as seeds, nuts, legumes and lean meats all help support healthy teeth and gums. Here are some healthy snack ideas for your children:

  • Low-fat yogurt with berries
  • Sliced, fresh watermelon
  • Crunchy veggies (celery or carrots) with dip
  • Cheese and apples
  • Unsalted almonds
  • Hummus with toasted whole grain pita triangles

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends limiting the number of snacks your children eat throughout the day to prevent cavities. Make sure they are staying away from sugary treats like candy, soda and cupcakes.

Good habits start young and tooth decay is largely preventable. Talk to your children about making wise food choices, practicing good tooth brushing and flossing habits. We all want your children to have beautiful and healthy smiles that last a lifetime!

Get to Know the CMS Plan
Brought to you by the Florida Department of Health

What is the Children’s Medical Services Managed Care Plan (CMS Plan)?
The CMS Plan is a state of Florida managed health care plan. It serves children and youth with special health care needs through Florida KidCare, which also includes three other programs: Medicaid for children, Florida Healthy Kids and Medikids. The Florida Department of Health runs the CMS Plan, which also works in conjunction with the Behavioral Health Network administered by the Florida Department of Children and Families. There are approximately 64,000 members enrolled in the CMS Plan. All CMS Plan members have a serious and chronic condition, like asthma, diabetes or cancer.

How does the CMS Plan fit in to Florida KidCare?
Florida KidCare helps connect families with health insurance for their children. The CMS Plan is made just for children with special health care needs whose families qualify financially.

What is a “special health care need”?
A special health care need is a chronic, or ongoing, condition that affects the child’s life. Some diagnoses are attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), cancer, cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia.

I’ve heard the CMS Plan is closing. Is that true?
There are some rumors that we are closing, but they are not true. The CMS Plan is not closing. The CMS Plan is going through some changes. The goal is to make the plan better for children and their families. The CMS Plan wants to be able to offer more benefits for the child and family. The CMS Plan also wants care coordinators to have more time to spend with families.

Want to learn more about the CMS Plan? Visit or call (855) 901-5390 to request a screening. 
Florida KidCare FAQs

What medical services does Florida KidCare cover?
Florida KidCare's comprehensive, child-centered health and dental insurance coverage includes services such as doctor visits, immunizations, dental care, vision and hearing screenings, emergency care, hospital stays and much more. Parents can contact their insurance plans for more details.

Will parents ever need to renew their child's Florida KidCare account?
Yes - a child's Florida KidCare account requires renewal every 12 months. To make the process more convenient, parents can renew their child's account online or through the mail. As a child's renewal date approaches, a reminder to renew the plan will be sent either by mail or email to the parent. Read more here for renewal information.

Once enrolled, could a child ever lose coverage?
A child could lose coverage if:
  • Payments are not made on time.
  • The account is not renewed every year.
  • The child reaches the age of 19.
  • The family moves out of Florida.
  • There could be other factors too, and families may call Florida KidCare at 1-888-540-KIDS (5437) to speak with a representative.
Contact Florida KidCare
1-888-540-KIDS (5437)
Monday – Friday
7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (EST) |