PurposeSchool-based oral health programs (SBOHPs) provide opportunities to address oral health inequities by providing convenient access points for care. No published guidelines on SBOHP implementation existed. Our work describes how philanthropic, public, and academic organizations partnered to support dental safety net providers with designing comprehensive SBOHPs in North and South Carolina.DescriptionA multi-sector leadership team was established to manage a new SBOHP philanthropic-funded grant program organized into two phases, Readiness and Implementation, with the former a 6-month planning period in preparation of the latter. Readiness included technical assistance (TA) delivered through coaching and 15 online learning modules organized in four domains: operations, finance, enabling services, and impact. Organizations could apply for implementation grants after successful TA completion. Process evaluation was used including a Readiness Stoplight Report for tracking progression.AssessmentTen Readiness grantees completed the TA. A variety of models resulted, including mobile, portable and fixed clinics. Descriptive analysis was conducted on the readiness stoplight reports. Components of the operation and finance domains required were the most time-intensive, specifically the development of policy manuals, production goals, and financial performance tracking.ConclusionThe program’s structure resulted in (a) a two-state learning community, (b) SBOHP practice and policy alignment, and (c) coordinated program distribution. TA improvements are planned to account for COVID-19 threats, including school closures, space limitations, and transmission fears. Telehealth, non-aerosolizing procedures, and improved scheduling and communication can address concerns. Organizations considering SBOHPs should explore similar recommendations to navigate adverse circumstances.
Maternal and Child Health Journal – Springer Journals
Published: May 4, 2021
Keywords: School health services; Oral health; Safety-net providers; Dental care for children; Preventive dentistry