The Oral Health Movement and How Collective Impact Can Benefit Kids

Jacob Vigil

Last week, the DentaQuest Foundation, one of our oral health partners, hosted fellow grantees and stakeholders at the annual Oral Health 2020 National Network Gathering in New Orleans with the theme: “Progress, Possibility, and Power.” At the convening, organizations from across the nation discussed how the network can work together towards the bold goals for 2020, including eradicating dental disease in children, and what can be done now.

To guide this discussion, keynote speaker Paul Schmitz, CEO of Leading Inside Out,talked about the values of collective impact and shared some best practices for developing strategies that are inclusive, engaging, and conscious of different organizations’ strengths and weaknesses. Paul urged everyone in attendance to look for leadership where no one else is looking and to recognize that social change always comes from the leadership of many.

The Children’s Partnership couldn’t agree more. From the very start, we have worked with an understanding of the importance of partnerships and networks, and regularly team up with diverse groups across the state to help children thrive. For example, our work with the First 5 Association of California (an association of county-level quasi-public organizations that use public funding and localized programs to meet the health, education, and other needs of young children) led to the Association providing greater input into state policy decisions regarding the future of children’s oral health. Additionally, a Los Angeles stakeholder group we convene has been able to leverage the collective impact of a variety of advocate and provider voices to make greater change in California. And now, TCP is playing a leadership role in the western region of the DentaQuest Foundation’s Regional Oral Health Connection initiative to support and sustain an aligned movement built on the work of oral health stakeholders at the state level.

The Oral Health 2020 convening is a great example of collective impact as it embodies the sense that it takes a network to create large-scale change and achieve the goals of Oral Health 2020. But the power of our network alone is not enough to successfully reach these targets, especially for kids, and that is where we ask you to step in. You can help us amplify the message to improve oral health for all children. In California, TCP is working to encourage policymakers to fix the state’s broken dental care program and develop new workforce models to expand access. Organizations can share our dental flyers to connect children to dental coverage and care. And together, let’s focus on our youngestwho stand to benefit the most. To get involved, contact Jenny Kattlove atjkattlove@childrenspartnership.org.

Learn more about Oral Health 2020 and the gathering in New Orleans by searching the hashtag #OH2020inNOLA on Twitter.

DentaQuest Foundation Oral Health 2020 NOLA

PHOTO: TCP’s Jacob Vigil, DentaQuest Foundation President Ralph Fuccillo, and partners in the network collaborating at the Oral Health 2020 convening

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