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Engaging Families

Offering oral health education and services in schools enable students to more easily access a broad range of services in a safe, familiar environment at minimal or no cost to students and their families.

Family factors have an impact on children’s use of dental services. A recent study found that three key factors improve children’s oral health: continuous enrollment in health insurance, regular check-ups for well-child care, and parents that access their own preventive dental care. (source: https://www.cthealth.org/publication/family-factors-increase-kids-dental-check-ups-and-health-equity).  When policies address these factors, and families are able to access care, there is a reduction in racial and ethnic oral health disparities among all school-aged children.

Schools and school-based health centers can emphasize the importance of regular oral health care to students, families, and the community. When parents, schools, and SBHCs work together, they can deliver clear, consistent messages to children, encourage the development of positive health behaviors, and assist children in getting necessary preventive care in a timely and easily accessible setting within the school environment. When working with parents, the following key points can help engage families in care:

  • Educate parents about school health services and managing chronic health conditions in school settings
  • Provide parents with practical strategies and actions to improve the school health environment – all parents want the best for their children and have great ideas to share.

(source: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/parentsforhealthyschools/resources.htm)

The following are resources supporting family engagement:

https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/parentsforhealthyschools/resources.htm  Drawing from research and best practices from schools across the country, CDC collaborated with key partners to create the strategies found in Parents for Healthy Schools to give schools a framework for parent engagement. There are three aspects of the parent engagement framework: connecting with parents, engaging parents in school health activities, and sustaining parent engagement in school health.

http://healthinschools.org/partner-build-grow/#sthash.iJGTFsEI.0luDrZcp.dpbs  Partner Build Grow is an Action Guide for sustaining community and school-based approaches that develop students’ cognitive, social, emotional, and physical health and contribute to educational success. The practical steps and tools will assist school administrators, program directors, civic leaders, and other stakeholders in developing plans to maintain and strengthen programs that give children the skills they need to flourish.

https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/oral-health/article/oral-health-resources-families  From Head Start, Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center, this link provides oral health resources for families, focusing on the early years, including dental visits, fluoride, nutrition, oral health care, oral hygiene, and safety and emergency first aid.

https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/buoh-2016-07.pdf  This fact sheet from the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center provides strategies for engaging families in children’s oral health care.