Converging Interests: Head Start and Oral Health in Wisconsin Image with TaglineOn September 16, 2009, over 135 dental professionals, Head Start & Early Head Start representatives, public health employees, oral health educators, advocates, insurance providers, and state agency representatives attended the statewide oral health forum Converging Interest: Head Start & Oral Health in Wisconsin–Taking Action to Effect Change! Quarterly meetings of the Wisconsin Oral Health Partners since 2007 and data gathered through the Head Start State Collaboration Office (HSSCO) 2008-09 needs assessment had made clear the need for such a forum to bring together a diverse set of community leaders to discuss the oral heath needs of Head Start children in our state and to renew joint commitments to improving access to comprehensive oral health care services for all families in Wisconsin.

The Oral Health Partners core planning team and a steering committee comprised of Head Start program and training/technical assistance office representatives, dental professionals, and advocates determined the forum’s three overarching goals:

  1. To raise awareness of evidence-based research, resources, and best practices for comprehensive oral health care;
  2. To strengthen early childhood/dental health partnerships; and
  3. To develop strategies to improve access to oral health services for Head Start children and families.

The Forum aimed to provide participants with an opportunity to explore local initiatives and strategies to increase access to oral health services for low-income children and families; to network and form community/regional leadership teams; to renew their commitment to improving access to oral health services; and establish sponsorship of a state action plan to develop accessible, sustainable, and comprehensive services for children and families living in poverty.

The event’s agenda included the following elements: an overview of the Forum’s format and purpose, highlights of Head Start/Early Head Start dental requirements, an overview of “AAPD’s Head Start Dental Home Initiative” by Project Director Dr. James Crall, a presentation on early childhood care disease and infant oral health by Dr. Cliff Hartmann, a motivational luncheon, a panel presentation highlighting innovative community strategies from providers and HS/EHS programs, an opportunity for local community teams to share current practices and brainstorm, development of regional community approaches to enhance the State’s Oral Health Action Plan, and discussion of follow-up (including input for the State Action Plan).

Converging Interests Resources

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