Improving Children's Oral Health through
School-Based Oral Health Programs 

With support from the Virginia Department of Health and the Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation, Virginia Health Catalyst staff led learning collaboratives of four dental safety-net clinics to expand/create a school-based oral health program (SBOHP).

The project aims to increase the number of children in Virginia who receive oral health services, specifically dental sealants and preventive care, by increasing the number of SBOHPs.

The Virginia Department of Health generously supports this program through a CDC Oral Health Infrastructure grant. VDH funding may not cover direct care or legislative activities.

About the SBOHP Project


School-based health programs address multiple barriers to health care access and support equitable health outcomes by reducing barriers to care, such as transportation and navigating the demanding schedules of working parents. It is particularly true for dental services, as 50% of children who received care at a school-based program in 2018 had not seen a dentist in the prior year. The pandemic has further exacerbated these issues, resulting in children's overwhelming need for dental care.

I had a really good time working with the Catalyst team and highly recommend the program.

Dr. Laverdiere, Dental Director at Johnson Health Center

Over 100 schools and 11 Head Starts are engaged in SBOHPs

Almost 14,000 students across Virginia have access to oral health care in their schools.

11 dental safety-net clinics are involved in SBOHPs

SBOHP Project Overview

In collaboration with the Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), and Department of Education, Virginia Health Catalyst (Catalyst) staff will facilitate a learning collaborative for school nurses and clinic staff to start new school-based oral health programs (SBOHPs) through education, support, and technical assistance. School nurses will serve as ambassadors for the dental program with families and school staff, increasing engagement among parents and teachers, and ensuring a well-run program.

Up to four Virginia safety-net clinic teams will be invited to attend monthly, 60-minute virtual learning sessions.

The sessions will cover:

  • Best practices in school-based oral health care
  • Quality improvement strategies and tools
  • Data collection, tracking, and outcome measures
  • Implementation guidance
  • Communication and coordination among school staff and clinic teams
  • Parent engagement (i.e., parental consent for care)
  • Learning engagement (i.e., good oral hygiene and nutrition habits reinforced throughout learning)
  • Policy, regulation, and clinical best practices
  • Creation of a referral network for more complex cases and SDOH
  • Sustainability to ensure a dental home (continuation of care)
  • Building a high level of trust among school staff, clinic staff, and parents

Participants will have individual team meetings with Catalyst staff each month for additional technical and clinical assistance. Tools, resources, and necessary materials for successful implementation and execution will be available on a private program-specific webpage.

2021-2024 School-Based Oral Health Program Clinics and Schools (4).pdf

How clinic teams succeed in the learning collaborative


    Catalyst staff have over 30 years of experience leading quality improvement projects.


    Clinic and school nurse teams will access over 30 hours of one-on-one or cohort-level support.


    National and state experts in school-based health helped to inform the curriculum and its evidence-based strategies.

September 2023

RFP opens & proposal submissions

September 2023

Proposal review and notification

October 2023 - August 2024

Monthly meetings

Virginia Department of Health logo