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Rural Health Information Hub

Rural Oral Health Program Partners

Rural oral health programs often have established partnerships with providers, community organizations, and Area Health Education Centers (AHECs), and consider these relationships to be important to their success. Strong partnerships can help rural oral health programs to:

  • Identify appropriate program partners and volunteers
  • Identify individuals who are in need services and conduct effective outreach
  • Understand the barriers to oral healthcare and identify solutions
  • Leverage existing resources
  • Refer individuals to other providers and social supports
  • Conduct program evaluation
  • Disseminate program results

The roles of partner organizations may vary. For example, partners may serve as funders for programs and provide guidance for the program. One rural oral health program worked with a local AHEC to help with education and outreach efforts. Other programs have worked with local colleges and universities, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and Head Start programs. Another program worked with a grant writer from a nearby Federally Qualified Health Center to write new proposals for funding. Project partners helped another program by posting job openings in job banks at their organizations.

Potential partners for rural oral health programs include:

  • Area Health Education Centers
  • Public health organizations
  • Universities and colleges
  • Foundations
  • Government organizations
  • Community service organizations
  • Volunteer groups
  • Multicultural alliances and associations
  • Hospitals
  • State and local health departments
  • Head Start programs
  • Federal Qualified Health Centers
  • Area clinics and medical centers
  • Philanthropic funds and charities
  • WIC programs

For additional information on the types of partners rural oral health programs may involve, and the activities that partners can support, see Identify and Engage Possible Partners in the Rural Community Health Toolkit. For more information on developing new or expanding existing coalitions, see the Rural Health Networks and Coalitions Toolkit.

Resources to Learn More

Best Practices Approach Report: State and Territorial Oral Health Programs and Collaborative Partnerships
Discusses the effectiveness of oral health program partnerships and collaborations at the state and territory level. Includes types of partnerships, characteristics of successful partnerships, evaluation, challenges and barriers, program examples, and resources including toolkits and guides.
Organization(s): Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors (ASTDD)
Date: 3/2020