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

Request for Proposals

With support from the Virginia Department of Health and the Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation, Virginia Health Catalyst staff will lead a learning collaborative for up to four dental safety-net clinics to expand or create a school-based oral health program (SBOHP).

The project aims to increase the number of children in Virginia that receive oral health services, specifically dental sealants and preventive care, by increasing the number of SBOHPs during the 2023-2024 school year.

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.

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    About the 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

    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.

    How will 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.

    Project Commitments & Timeline

    Participating dental clinics agree to:

    • Attend monthly meetings (at least one staff member will attend every monthly meeting)
    • Implement a school-based oral health program within the project period
    • Collect and report data to Catalyst staff
    • Provide preventive care
      • Focus on dental sealants
    • Develop and achieve measurable goals
    • Spend funds appropriately before the August 15, 2023 deadline.
    • Regular communication with Catalyst staff, including phone calls, e-mails, and meetings

    September 2022

    RFP opens & proposal submissions

    September 2022

    Proposal review and notification

    October 2022 - August 2023

    Monthly meetings


    Participating clinics will be awarded $20,000 from the VDH to develop infrastructure, purchase supplies and equipment, and cover initial administrative support costs. Funding begins upon completion of a fully executed contract and must be spent by August 15, 2023.

    This funding will support:

    • Infrastructure
    • Supplies and equipment (i.e. portable equipment, software, etc.)
    • Administrative support

    The funding will not support:

    • Direct care

    Eligible sites must be a dental safety-net clinic or a non-profit dental clinic in Virginia. The site may have an existing SBOHP but will need to expand to other schools.

    Please apply through the Virginia Health Catalyst website by EOD Friday, September 23, 2022.

    Application & Review Process

    Click the button below to fill out the short application.

    Virginia Health Catalyst staff review all submitted applications. The review process may involve a phone conference or interview with applicants, which is determined on a case-by-case and may not be required. Catalyst staff will invite up to four clinics to participate in this cohort.

    Virginia Department of Health logo