06/20/2017

Selected local pilot projects to improve children's oral health


Dentists in selected counties have an opportunity to participate in pilot projects that seek to improve the oral health of California children enrolled in Denti-Cal. In February 2017, the Department of Health Care Services announced the 15 selected proposals for Local Dental Pilot Project funding, with awards totaling $150 million over four years. Local Dental Pilot Projects are one of the four domains of the Dental Transformation Initiative and part of California’s 1115 waiver, or Medi-Cal 2020. The DTI represents a significant $740 million investment in the Denti-Cal Program and the oral health of California children.

Proposals were selected from the following counties or organizations:

  • Alameda County
  • California Rural Indian Health Board Inc.
  • California State University, Los Angeles
  • First 5 Kern
  • First 5 San Joaquin
  • First 5 Riverside
  • Fresno County
  • Humboldt County
  • Northern Valley Sierra Consortium
  • Orange County
  • Sacramento County
  • San Luis Obispo County
  • San Francisco City and County Department of Public Health
  • Sonoma County
  • University of California, Los Angeles

The goal of the DTI is to increase access to care, identify and treat dental disease and incentivize continuity of care for the approximately 5 million California children enrolled in the Denti-Cal program. DHCS solicited LDPP proposals in 2016 that advanced the goals of the DTI through alternative programs, potentially using strategies focused on rural areas, including local case management initiatives and education partnerships.

Each of the 15 winning proposals is unique and uses local entities to leverage existing infrastructure to address the oral health needs of the community. Many of the proposals are combined efforts between the county office of health, local dental societies, the local First 5 commission, school districts, Women, Infants and Children sites, community clinics, federally qualified health centers and many other community partners.

Building dental services capacity, deploying “health coaches”

For example, the “Every Smile Counts!” program, led by the Sacramento County Division of Public Health, will use its $10 million grant funding to help build dental services capacity for children and bridge the gap between dental care and primary care in systems currently used by low-income families. Another element of the pilot project will focus on providing a Virtual Dental Home, a program run by the University of Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, by traveling to local schools with existing dental vans and portable dental equipment to complete treatment plans.

The Cavity Free Sonoma program, led by the Sonoma County Department of Health Services, will use its grant to try other approaches to increase oral health and reduce cavities in area children. As part of the pilot project, the county will work with Santa Rosa Junior College to enhance its community health worker certification program with an emphasis on dental health. These workers will be deployed to 10 community health centers to serve as “Health Coaches” who will conduct comprehensive oral health assessments of children, help coordinate their care with the clinic, educate parents on oral health issues and provide encouragement and coaching to adopt healthy behaviors. Another innovative approach of the Sonoma program will be to develop a smartphone app that will deliver health-related messages, remind parents of their kids’ appointments and provide parents with dental health records and health care coverage information.

In Los Angeles County, two academic institutions collaborated to create a program that identifies barriers to dental care and address them using a “whole child and whole family” approach. The Rongxiang Xu College of Health and Human Services at the California State University, Los Angeles and the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of University of Southern California will utilize their respective areas of expertise to develop an interdisciplinary dental health promotion and intervention program. This program will include materials to encourage families to engage in small, specific behavior changes concerning dental health care and other factors that influence oral health, such as cultural beliefs, demographic considerations, parenting behaviors, nutrition and access to the dental care system.

Dentists interested in participating in a pilot project in their area are encouraged to reach out to the selected organizations. Visit the Domain 4 webpage for more details regarding each of the LDPP awards.

For more information about the DTI’s provider incentives, visit the DTI page of the Department of Health Care Services website. To receive future updates on the DTI, subscribe to the DTI Stakeholder email service.



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In February 2017, the Department of Health Care Services announced the 15 selected proposals for Local Dental Pilot Project (LDPP) funding, with awards totaling $150 million over four years. Local Dental Pilot Projects are one of the four domains of the Dental Transformation Initiative and part of California’s 1115 waiver, or Medi-Cal 2020. The DTI represents a huge $740 million investment in the Denti-Cal Program and the oral health of Californians.

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