Grant Project Title
Strengthening Community Voices in the Hawaii Oral Health Coalition
Grantee Address

Hawaii Children's Action Network
850 Richards Street #201
Honolulu, HI
United States

Hawaii Children’s Action Network (HCAN) is seeking funding to support the Hawaii Oral Health Coalition (HOHC) which the organization collectively operates in partnership with Hawaii Public Health Institute (HIPHI). The Coalition’s two primary organizational goals are to reinstate a Medicaid adult dental benefit and to increase access to primary oral health care for children with Medicaid. While the HOHC is technically one organization, there are three “neighbor island coalitions” representing the rural islands of Maui, Kauai and Hawaii Island, each of which are at various stages of development in their oral health work.

In the past three years, supported by CareQuest Institute for Oral Health funding, Hawaii Children’s Action Network and HOHC made significant progress toward a Medicaid adult dental benefit. In 2019 the organization garnered 46 pages of testimony for support of the benefit, and signatures from 28 organizations in the state. Legislative action on this front was put on pause in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the organization remains well-poised to pick up on momentum generated in 2019. HCAN is seeking funding in 2021 for the HOHC to continue this work, along with several other projects, some policy-related and some related to infrastructure.

The first of these goals is to build and enhance the coalition structure while diversifying the types of members involved. Specifically, HCAN hopes to provide administrative and strategy support for the three neighbor island coalitions, and increase the number of primary care physicians engaged in the HOHC. At the current time, the majority of work undertaken by the neighbor island coalitions is oral health education for providers and clients of community support services.

The second goal of this proposal is to advance the Hawaii Children's Policy Agenda, developed by a committee of over 40 partner organizations statewide, which has a primary focus on expanding the MADB. Additional policy work will be done related to community water fluoridation and other social determinants of oral health. Grassroots advocates will receive media training and support to organize and raise awareness of the importance of oral health among their clients. HCAN will also develop narrative stories to complement data provided to policy makers about MADB.

The third goal of HCAN’s proposal is to improve preventative care and access to oral health services in 2021. HCAN will partner HOHC’s Policy and Advocacy committee and the state DHS office to explore increasing the number of primary care doctors and pediatricians providing sealants to children in Medicaid. HOHC also hopes to deliver public education around safety at the dentist while we adjust as part of our “new normal,” and explore community settings where dental services could potentially be delivered outside of the traditional dental setting.

About half of the funds requested are allocated to staff. Remaining funds are designated for meetings, marketing, and program supplies.

CareQuest Institute for Oral Health has funded HCAN in the amount of $359,241 since 2017. Large investments were made into the development of HOHC in 2017, 2018, and late 2019.

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