Santa Rosa, CA – May 10, 2017 – The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors today accepted a $3.5 million award from the California Department of Health Care Services to support new initiatives to improve childhood dental health. The Department of Health Services will administer and manage the grant program, titled Cavity Free Sonoma.
“Dental disease threatens the health and development of young children and is linked to a number of chronic medical conditions in adults,” said Board Chairwoman Shirlee Zane. “The good news is we have community strategies to do something about it.”
Through this state grant, county health officials plan to hire and train community dental health workers to ensure comprehensive care coordination for young children at community dental centers. Cavity Free Sonoma will focus on dental caries in children ages 0-6, providing standardized assessments, referrals, family education, and personalized continuous care.
In addition, the Santa Rosa Junior College will deliver specialized dental training for bilingual community dental health workers. The goal of the grant is to demonstrate savings in insurance expenditures through dental health prevention efforts—and then reinvest the savings back into dental health education, dental-care assessments, and preventative treatment and early intervention.
This grant will help advance all five evidence-based strategies adopted by the Sonoma County Dental Health Network (Network) to improve dental health countywide, as well as to counter childhood dental-health disparities. This Network was formed by the County of Sonoma and community-based organizations to respond to the findings of Sonoma County Smile Surveys, which showed widespread evidence of children with dental decay.
The Dental Health Network Strategic Plan, completed in December 2016, set an ambitious goal of 75 percent cavity-free kindergartners by the year 2020 through greater integration of dental health strategies into existing primary medical care programs and systems; enhanced funding of dental-health innovation; and ongoing evaluation of which initiatives are delivering results. This grant enables the Department of Health Services to support programs that will address four of the five priority strategies. A copy of the new Dental Health Network Strategic Plan 2017-2020 is available at http://sonomacounty.ca.gov/Health/Dental-Health/About-Dental-Disease/.