Collective Impact: Tackling Oral Health Issues for Children in Poverty

Tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease—five times more common than asthma. Seeing the connection between productive learning and heathy teeth, the current Child Oral Health Collaborative was formed in 2013 to find ways to bring relevant oral health services to children in the school setting. Our partners work in cooperation with Omaha Public Schools to bring cutting-edge, evidence-based practices in oral health to children in high-poverty schools.

The Child Oral Health Collaborative

Who is the Child Oral Health Collaborative?

The members of the Omaha Child Oral Health Collaborative come from all walks of life; from leaders in managed care to those who provide direct oral healthcare to children. In spite of the diversity of knowledge and experience, the common thread is this: kids who have healthy teeth are more successful in school. “Our number one health referral in our schools is for dental treatment,” states the OPS Health Services Supervisor. “We are so grateful for all of the school-based oral health services provided by our partners in the Child Oral Health Collaborative.”

What is the Charge of the Child Oral Health Collaborative?

The Child Oral Health Collaborative works to improve oral health outcomes by facilitating cross-sector community partnerships to provide a continuum of oral health care and education for underserved children and youth in the Omaha Public Schools.

Why are oral health services delivered in schools?

School-based oral health services bring dental care to children who may have limited access and serves as an entry point to a dental home.  Families in the Omaha area report barriers to accessing oral health care such as language, transportation and finances.  The members of the Child Oral Health Collaborative work together to ensure that dental services are implemented in schools where children are likely to have the greatest need.  Collaborative members communicate regularly to ensure services are coordinated, not duplicated and timely.

How does Building Healthy Futures support the Child Oral Health Collaborative?

  • Professional Development Support: Building Healthy Futures Oral Health Services professionals offer learning opportunities for school nurses. They have also assisted in introducing teledentistry technology to the health professionals in school-based health centers. There have also been learning opportunities for Headstart and Educare caseworkers pertaining to prenatal and infant oral health.
  • Coordination of Services: Building Healthy Futures works closely with its service provider partners to ensure relevant oral health services are offered to as many children as possible and to reduce the number of duplicate services in OPS.
  • Identifying Common Measures: Building Healthy Futures, in coordination with its service provider partners, collects and analyzes relevant program data to identify gaps in service delivery, to demonstrate impact over time and to identify unmet needs in our community and beyond.


The Child Oral Health Collaborative, in collaboration with OneWorld Community Health Centers, Charles Drew Health Center, UNMC College of Dentistry, and Creighton School of Dentistry are providing dental services in 41 OPS schools. Click Here to view locations and services provided on a map