10 steps to starting a Head Start program in your office

Head Start began as a summer program in 1965 and serves the nation’s most vulnerable children. It focuses on school readiness with inclusion of medical, dental, nutrition and mental health.

Action for Dental HealthAction for Dental Health has created a basic 10-step process to launching your own Head Start program in your dental office.

In essence, the 10 steps are:

  • Step 1: Call the local Community Action Agency and speak with the director about oral exam federal compliance opportunities.
  • Step 2: Discuss with local officials (county commissioners) what percentage of their Head Start children have received dental exams and what more can be done.
  • Step 3: Arrange appropriate follow-up care for those children identified with dental needs.
  • Step 4: Present in-services on early childhood decay to local pediatricians/family medicine staff and promote the need for caries risk assessment, anticipatory guidance and referrals to establish a dental home.
  • Step 5: Become a registered state dental Medicaid provider.
  • Step 6: Meet with community leaders from United Way, local foundations or faith-based communities to discuss health needs/support for young children to access dental exams.
  • Step 7: Discuss opportunities to partner with local business community in holding events aimed at Head Start children receiving dental screening services and oral health education.
  • Step 8: Utilize local dental society meetings to coordinate Head Start screenings and follow-up care.
  • Step 9: Evaluate the success of the program.
  • Step 10: Visit the Women, Infant, Children Department (WIC) in the local health department or county offices and determine need for children under age 5 to have dental exams.

To read more on the 10 steps to starting a Head Start program in your office, click here. For more information, contact Dr. Jane Gover, director of the ADA Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations at groverj@ada.org. For more information on Action for Dental Health, visit ADA.org/action.

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