Increasing the Number of School-Based Oral Health Programs in the Commonwealth

Request for Proposals

Catalyst is requesting proposals for a maximum of 10 dental safety net clinics to participate in a collaborative learning cohort that will offer education, support, technical assistance, and connection to school nurses and clinic staff interested in beginning school-based oral health programs. This program is available through a partnership with the Delta Dental Foundation of Virginia and the Virginia Department of Health. Applications are due online by Friday, March 5, 2021.

Purpose: To increase the number of Virginia children that receive oral health services, with a focus on preventive care, by growing the number of school-based oral health programs by ten during the 2021-22 school year.

On this page:
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    About the Project


    Over 30,000 Virginia children received dental care in a school-based programs during the 2018-2019 school year.  The pandemic and resulting school closures have put many things, including school-based care, on hold, likely leading to an overwhelming need for dental care by students when schools reopen. Conversely, safety net clinics in the Commonwealth have seen a decline in revenue, making it difficult to meet the needs of the populations they serve.  School-based dental programs provide an opportunity for students to receive necessary care where they are, while establishing a dental home with a bricks and mortar facility and enabling safety net clinics to gain revenue from Medicaid reimbursement while meeting community needs.

    With funding from the Virginia Department of Health (through a Centers for Disease Control Oral Health Infrastructure grant) and Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation, and support from the Department of Education and Virginia Health Catalyst, up to ten Virginia dental safety net clinic staff and leadership have an opportunity to invest in equipment and supplies, replicate best practices in school-based oral health care, and develop strong relationships with local school nurses to begin or grow existing school-based programs and be prepared to meet the dental needs of students when they return to school.

    A successful school-based program is predicated on many factors, among them are:

    • Available revenue
    • Optimal staffing
    • Consistent scheduling
    • Strong relationship among school, clinic staff, and parents
    • Parent engagement

    In a school-based oral health program (SBOHP), the clinical team manages the logistics of providing care and the school nurse serves as an ambassador for the dental program to families and school staff, increasing the engagement among parents and teachers and ensuring a well-run program.

    Funding Availability

    The Virginia Department of Health will extend $20,000 per clinic to develop infrastructure, purchase equipment and supplies, and provide initial administrative support. Funding will begin once a fully executed contract is in place and must be spent by August 15, 2021.

    This funding will support:

    • Infrastructure
    • Supplies and equipment
    • Administrative support

    The funding will not support:

    • Direct care
    SBOHP budget example
    Project Format

    Participating safety net clinics will attend three 60-minute virtual learning sessions and a 6-hour training session on July 28 with CEs provided. School nurse partners working in the same regions as the clinics will join in the latter part of the learning cohort. The sessions will cover:

    • Best practices in school-based oral health care;
    • How school-based programs can decrease inequities;
    • Implementation guidance (consent forms/parent engagement, services, equipment and space, scheduling/logistics, care coordination); and
    • Communication and coordination among school and clinic teams and follow-through.

    Participants will have access to a private space on the Catalyst website for tools, resources, and a material list with all necessary items for successful execution. Continuing education credits will be provided for participating school nurses and dental professionals.

    Anticipated outcomes of the collaborative include:

    • Replicable strategy for 10 clinics and 10 schools to implement SBOHPs
    • New, sustainable SBOHPs that operate with strong collaboration between clinics and school nurses
    • Enhanced partnership among DOE, school nurses and safety net clinics
    • An increase of 1,000 children that receive oral care in the school year
    Eligibility and Application

    Eligible sites must be a dental safety net clinic or a non-profit dental clinic in Virginia. Your site may already have a SBOHP, which you are interested in expanding to other schools, but it is not necessary.

    Apply online through the Virginia Health Catalyst website by EOD Friday, March 5, 2021. All submitted applications will be reviewed by Catalyst staff members. The review process may involve a phone conference or interview with applicants on a case-by-case basis, though it may not be required. A maximum of 10 clinics will be selected.

    Project Timeline
    • RFP release: 2/17/2021
    • Proposal submissions due: 3/5/2021
    • Proposal review and notification: 3/10/2021
    • Learning sessions:
      • 3/26/2021: 1 hr. meeting
      • 6/25/2021: 1 hr. meeting
      • 7/28/2021: Collaborative 6 hr. meeting with local school nurses, dental CEs provided
      • 8/6/2021: Collaborative 1 hr. meeting with school nurses
    • VDH funding: must be spent by 8/15/2021