Community Catalyst to Assume Children’s Dental Health Project Operations

Dentistry Today


The Children’s Dental Health Project (CDHP) will transition its online public health policy and advocacy research and analysis to Community Catalyst. With this move to its longstanding organizational partner, CDHP will terminate its operations as an independent nonprofit at the end of the year while ensuring an ongoing commitment to transforming the oral health system to better serve all children and adults, the organization reports. 

“After reviewing our founding mission, our achievements, and consulting with longtime supporters, the Children’s Dental Health Project board and I determined it was time to shift from being a niche policy shop to bolstering oral health efforts within a broader health policy agenda,” said Meg Booth, CDHP executive director.

“We are thrilled our legacy will strengthen the next generation of oral health policy and advocacy at Community Catalyst. A trusted ally, they share our belief that no family should be held back from its dreams due to dental disease,” said Booth. 

“Community Catalyst and the Children’s Dental Health Project have long stood together to end barriers to dental care,” said Emily Stewart, executive director at Community Catalyst. “We are grateful for CDHP’s leadership improving the status of children’s oral health coverage and advancing access to care for parents and other adults. We look forward to honoring the rich history of CDHP by continuing our fight for families’ oral health.” 

Dr. Burton Edelstein, a pediatric dentist and professor of dental medicine and health policy and management at Columbia University, founded CDHP 22 years ago to secure a dental benefit in the new Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Congress had failed to guarantee dental coverage for newly insured children, treating pediatric dental care as optional, CDHP said.

After 10 years, CDHP and its partners secured guaranteed comprehensive dental benefits for children in both CHIP and the Affordable Care Act. As a result, more than 10 million children obtained dental coverage, and ever-increasing numbers of children obtained dental care. By 2016, for the first time since Medicaid began in 1965, more than half of children with publicly financed insurance had obtained dental care.

“Securing coverage and care for underserved children will be the sustaining historic legacy of the Children’s Dental Health Project. This remarkable achievement belongs to CDHP’s tireless leadership and staff, its strategic smarts, its investigative prowess, and its extensive partnerships and collaborations,” said Edelstein.

“CDHP gave voice to children’s oral health and established pediatric oral health policy as an essential, collaborative endeavor that will only grow as healthcare reform continues to evolve,” said Edelstein.

Throughout its history, CDHP successfully engaged state and federal organizations and decision-makers to expand children’s oral health coverage in both public and private insurance, the group said. Recently, CDHP expanded its focus to meeting the dental needs of parents and caregivers, particularly for people who are pregnant and eligible for Medicaid, making significant inroads on the issue, it said.

“Addressing the oral health of a whole family includes, but must go beyond, the dental care system,” said Booth. “We look forward to shifting CDHP’s work to Community Catalyst so our partners can continue building on our success. At the same time, we encourage other groups to pick up where we left off, creating the systemic changes needed to help all families achieve good oral health and economic stability.”

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