Early Head Start and Head Start programs have been longtime advocates of oral health. By providing center-based tooth brushing programs and ongoing classroom and parent education, EHS/HS programs strengthen the oral health of the families they serve. A key part of a strong oral health outreach is connecting children to a dental home. This is a required part of Head Start programs, so programs work continually to connect with local providers.

The Division of Oral Health at the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control recently developed an Oral Health Tool Kit for Head Start Health Coordinators as part of a dental home initiative grant funded by the Office of Head Start/American Academy of Pediatric Dentists (AAPD) Dental Home Initiative September 2007-September 2010. The information and materials within this Tool Kit were designed to support and strengthen existing program goals and objectives. The main goal of this initiative was to provide parents, caregivers and Head Start staff with the latest evidence-based information on how they can help prevent tooth decay and establish a foundation for a lifetime of oral health

For more information on the contents of the kit, go to the following link: http://www.scdhec.gov/health/mch/oral/head_start.htm




According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, home visitation programs offer a mechanism for ensuring that at-risk families have social support, linkage with public and private community services, and ongoing health, developmental, and safety education. When these services are part of a system of high-quality well-child care linked or integrated with the pediatric medical home, they have the potential to mitigate health and developmental outcome disparities. Read more from The American Academy of Pediatrics.

Home Visitation programs are in a unique position to positively impact and support preventive oral health for young children and their families. They have direct access to families and can observe oral health related behaviors that occur within the home. By establishing a trusted relationship, Home Visitors can reinforce medical and dental preventive messages, play a positive role in supporting behavioral change and assist in connecting families to a dental home.

Children'™s Trust is the South Carolina lead agency for the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program. They lead the state'™s efforts in coordinating the delivery of voluntary home visiting services. Children'™s Trust supports 6 program models, and they are working to build a quality system throughout the state to have a continuum of programs available to serve at-risk families and children at various stages of need.

The Connecting Smiles initiative worked directly with the Home Visitation programs from the Children'™s Center at the Carolina Health Center.

The program models involved in the pilot project were:

Healthy Families America

Healthy Families America helps families manage life'™s challenges by building on strengths, rather than focusing on correcting weakness. The program model offers weekly home visits, beginning prenatally or within the first three months after a child'™s birth. Visits continue until the child is age three to five.

Healthy Steps

Healthy Steps emphasizes close relationships between health care professionals and parents. The goal is to address the physical, emotional, and intellectual growth and development of children from birth to age three within the context of their family. Healthy Steps Specialists work in close collaboration with the healthcare team to ensure that families get the services they need for their children.

Nurse Family Partnership

Nurse-Family Partnership is for first-time, low-income mothers and their children. It includes one-on-one home visits by a trained public health nurse with participating clients. The visits begin early in the woman'™s pregnancy (with program enrollment no later than the 28th week of gestation) and conclude when children turn 2 years old.

This collaboration resulted in the development of an oral health training for Home Visitors. In addition to the training, an Oral Health Resource Kit was created with the tools needed to support preventive oral health behaviors within the home. This pilot project was part of the DentaQuest 2014 Grant.

Learn about our funding partners:
  Bureau of Health Profession of the Health Resources and Services DentaQuest Founfation South Carolina Rural Health Reserch Center