Innovation in School-Based Oral Health Services

About the Innovation in School-Based Oral Health Services Initiative

Future Smiles girl brushes her teeth.Tooth decay is the most prevalent and preventable chronic disease of children in the United States, and lower-income and minority children experience higher-than-average rates. In 2015, the School-Based Health Alliance set out to increase children’s access to oral health services in schools with our “Innovation in School-Based Oral Health Services” initiative, supported by the DentaQuest Foundation.

Project Description

This exciting and ongoing program focuses on one of the six National Oral Health 2020 Goals — incorporating oral health into the education system. The target for the Oral Health 2020 goal is the 10 largest U.S. school districts. These school districts represent more than 4 million children and a significant number of high-need students. To advance this work, the Alliance has partnered with national, state, and local stakeholders.

The 10 largest school districts in the U.S. are:

  • Broward County Public Schools (Florida)
  • Chicago Public Schools (Illinois)
  • Clark County School District (Nevada)
  • Hawaii Department of Education (Hawaii)
  • Hillsborough County Public Schools (Florida)
  • Houston Independent School District (Texas)
  • Los Angeles Unified School District (California)
  • Miami Dade County Public Schools (Florida)
  • New York City Department of Education (New York)
  • Puerto RicoDepartment of Education School District (Puerto Rico)

Currently, the Alliance has engaged seven of these school districts in a school oral health learning community: Chicago Public Schools; Clark County School District; Hillsborough County Public Schools; Houston Independent School District; Los Angeles Unified School District; Miami Dade County Public Schools; and New York City Department of Education.

Thanks to support from The Duke Endowment, six additional school districts are also participating in the learning community. The Duke Endowment supported school districts are: Allendale School District (South Carolina); Clarendon School District One (South Carolina); Clarendon School District Two (South Carolina); Dillon School District (South Carolina); Hampton One School District (South Carolina); and Montgomery County Public Schools (North Carolina). In January 2018, the Alliance welcomed the newest member of the learning community, Arkansas, with three school districts: Springdale School District, Little Rock School District, and El Dorado School District. The new school districts and the state level team are supported by the Arkansas Children’s Hospital. The total number of school district teams participating is sixteen.

As we move forward with DentaQuest’s broader Oral Health 2020 initiative, we hope to not only improve oral health outcomes for children in these districts, but also spread the policy and program innovations throughout the nation to achieve greater health equity for all children and adolescents.

Project Activities

The Alliance’s project activities include:

  • Developing a school oral health learning community made up of partners and stakeholders from the 12 school districts. Participating school oral health teams are working to increase the consent and utilization rates of their school oral health services.
  • Defining a set of core components for school oral health.
  • Creating, testing, and revising an online data collection tool to measure successes of the work in the learning community.
  • Creating a web-based Oral Health Resource Library to provide a single point of entry to school oral health tools, resources, and organizations.
  • Developing a strategic document on the policy, finance, and sustainability of school oral health programs.

To date, each of the 16 school district teams assembled their local school oral health work group. School district teams participated in group learning webinars and monthly calls, and developed their unique work plan and success measures. All teams stay connected through monthly conference calls and a group online networking platform. In June 2017, the Alliance and other National Oral Health 2020 Network partners held the second national convening of school oral health stakeholders, including members from each of the Alliance’s learning community teams. The third annual convening of school oral health stakeholders is June 27, 2018.

In addition to these grant-funded initiatives, the Alliance continues to host a wide variety of oral health-focused webinars, as well as oral health workshops at its annual conventions.


Project Updates

The School-Based Health Alliance Releases Two Oral Health White Papers (April 2018)

The Alliance is proud to announce the release of two Oral Health 2020 white papers, School Oral Health: An Organizational Framework to Improve Outcomes for Children and Adolescents and Confronting the Consent Conundrum: Lessons from a School Oral Health Learning Community.

School Oral Health: An Organizational Framework to Improve Outcomes for Children and Adolescents depicts the shared vision of the school oral health field, starting with a framework for how communities can organize the partners, policies, programs, services, and curricula necessary to achieve better and more equitable oral health outcomes. The work comes from key thought leaders in children’s oral health: public health professionals associations and academic and advocacy organizations such as the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors (ASTDD), the American Association for Community Dental Programs, the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center, and the World Health Organization.

Over the past two school years, the Alliance has worked with seven of the ten largest school districts in the country as part of the Strengthening School Oral Health Services and Growing the School Oral Health Learning Community. The work focuses on developing innovative strategies to achieve higher rates of positive consent for oral health services in each school district, many of whom have reported less than the national average for consents. Without higher consent rates, there was concern for program utilization and children getting the care they need, in addition to the impact on sustainability. Confronting the Consent Conundrum: Lessons from a School Oral Health Learning Community showcases several of the ideas that resulted in increased positive parental consents for school oral health services.


The Learning Community Welcomes Arkansas and Three New Districts (January 2018)

Through support from the Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the Alliance announced that three new school districts have joined the School Oral Health Learning Community: Springdale School District, Little Rock School District, and El Dorado School District. In addition, there is an Arkansas state core team dedicated to improving oral health outcomes for Arkansas children and youth. The newest school districts teams bring the total for the learning community to 16!


The School-Based Health Alliance Announces a New School Oral Health Resource (Winter 2018)

The School-Based Health Alliance is pleased to announce the launch of the School Oral Health Resource Library. With the help of our partners – Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors, Children’s Dental Health Project, National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center, and Oral Health America—this library serves as an access point to resources from reputable oral health organizations and programs. This platform simplifies and streamlines the search and identification of relevant resources for all who are engaged in school oral health at the national, state, and local levels.

Read more about the resource library.

The information and tools are organized around eight components of school oral health: education; screening and risk assessments; preventive care; care coordination; cleaning, exams and treatments; integrated services; data and program evaluation; and sustainability.

The School-Based Health Alliance wants to continue to grow this resource. School oral health programs and professionals are encouraged to submit additional tools and resources. To submit resources, please use the New Resource Submission Form. If you have any questions, please email Nataki Duncan at nduncan@sbh4all.org.


Keeping the Community Feeling Alive: Alliance Conducts “Booster Visits” (Winter 2016/2017)

The School-Based Health Alliance is on the road, visiting school district teams at their home bases. Dubbed “booster visits,” these trips are an opportunity for school district leaders and their team of stakeholders to review the Model for Improvement, the PDSA cycle, and their work plans.

Read more about the booster visits.

The visits are planned in conjunction with the school district, allowing for a customized agenda that may include bringing in other experts on a topic of choice, such as data collection, school engagement, or policy and sustainability. The booster visits are also a way to reconnect with our incredible teams, and meet their partners and stakeholders.


National Partners Create Online Oral Health Resource Library (Winter 2016)

In its first year of working towards the goal of incorporating oral health into the primary education system, the School-Based Health Alliance heard from the field that it was challenging to find information related to school oral health. Tools, information, and resources were scattered throughout the web. A dedicated web-based access point for all available resources related to children’s oral health and school oral health services was needed.

Read more about the web-based resource library.

Together with our national partners ‒ the Association for State and Territorial Dental Directors, the Children’s Dental Health Project, the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center, and Oral Health America ‒  the Alliance built an online resource library. The library is organized around the key components of school oral health and allows visitors to link directly to the sources of content. The library is currently in beta version with an expected launch in Summer 2017.


Alliance, Oral Health 2020 Network Host National Convening (Fall 2016)

In September 2016, the School-Based Health Alliance and the Oral Health (OH) 2020 Network hosted a national convening focusing on the OH 2020 goal of incorporating oral health into the primary education system.

Read more about the national convening.

The initial part of the three-day convening focused on emerging and promising practices in the field, barriers to incorporating oral health into schools, and building consensus around a definition for school oral health. The Alliance believes that a uniform definition for “school oral health” will allow for future standardization of data collection and outcome measures, which will demonstrate value and ensure quality in oral health programs.

The second half of the convening allowed members of the School Oral Health Learning Community to share innovative ideas to improve consent and utilization of school oral health programs, develop action plans, and strengthen connections to the broader OH 2020 Network.


Alliance, National Oral Health Partners Develop Draft “Core Components of School Oral Health”

The School-Based Health Alliance along with its collaborating oral health partners, the Association for State and Territorial Dental Directors, the Children’s Dental Health Project, the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center, and Oral Health America, have developed a draft document outlining the core components of school oral health.

Read more about the school oral health core components.

The draft document was presented to participants at the Oral Health 2020 Network national convening where they were discussed, debated, and ultimately agreed upon by the attendees.

The core components include:

  • Education
  • Screening & Risk Assessment
  • Preventive Care
  • Care Coordination
  • Cleaning, Exams & Treatment
  • Integrated Services

The final Core Components of School Oral Health will be released in Summer 2017.


The Learning Community Welcomes Five New Districts (Spring 2016)

Through support from The Duke Endowment, the Alliance announced that five new school districts have joined the School Oral Health Learning Community. The newest teams from North and South Carolina bring the total number of participating districts to 12.

Read more about the five new districts.

Districts supported by the Duke Endowment include:

  • Montgomery County School District, NC
  • Clarendon County School District One, SC
  • Clarendon County School District Two, SC
  • Dillon School District Four, SC
  • Allendale School District, SC

Alliance Launches School Oral Health Learning Community (Spring 2016)

The School-Based Health Alliance is excited to announce that all seven school districts invited to participate in the Innovations in School Oral Health Services initiative have accepted. These seven school districts make up the School Oral Health Learning Community, a collaborative effort to increase consent rates and use of school oral health services in their school districts.

Read more about the seven school districts.

Members of the School Oral Health Learning Community include:

  • Los Angeles Unified School District, CA
  • Clark County School District, NV
  • Houston Independent School District, TX
  • Chicago Public Schools, IL
  • Miami-Dade County Public Schools, FL
  • Hillsborough County School District, FL
  • New York City Public Schools, NY
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