FocusFirst is a cost-effective direct response to the vision-care problems of children who live in urban and rural poverty in Alabama.
A signature collaboration between the Center for Ethics & Social Responsibility and Impact Alabama, undergraduate and graduate students serving as FocusFirst volunteers ensure children ages six months to five years in Head Starts and lower-income daycares are screened for vision problems and receive subsidized examination, diagnosis, and treatment. UA students screened 1,730 children in 58 child-care centers across 10 counties during the 2009-10 school year. Several UA service-learning classes partnered with FocusFirst during the 2009-2010 academic year, including BSC 409: Pre-Health Apprenticeship and NEW 237: Cooperation and Conflict.
Since the launch of the FocusFirst program in November 2004, more than 1,900 student volunteers from 22 campuses throughout Alabama have screened more than 88,000 children in all 67 counties across the state. A potential vision problem was detected in approximately 11.5 percent of those children, all of whom have received subsidized follow-up care as necessary through Sight Savers of Alabama.