Create Strategic Partnerships

By leveraging partnerships, SBHCs may be able to increase program services, deliver services more efficiently, and decrease the likelihood that efforts will be duplicated. Partners can also help SBHCs learn important lessons about community needs and readiness and about implementation, gain more exposure to target audiences, and secure additional resources.

Partnerships need to be strategic and should be built on a commitment to a shared purpose. It is important for SBHCs to identify their needs and opportunities for building lasting and effective partnerships within and outside the SBHC and to establish a clear goal for collaborative efforts. Doing so will help secure partners who are committed to improving the oral health of the students they serve and to promoting program sustainability.

Ongoing assessment of the strengths and challenges of existing and potential partners will deepen SBHCs' capacity for building a strong network. As such, SBHCs should regularly assess their purpose and ensure that every partnership is based on advancing toward a common goal. Engaging a wide range of individuals and organizations extends the SBHC's reach and capacity. Reaching out to nontraditional partners allows SBHCs to draw upon a variety of backgrounds, skill sets, and knowledge bases.

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Action Steps

  • Develop strategic partnerships.
  • Continuously assess existing partnerships.
  • Establish a shared vision and a commitment to program goals and sustainability.
  • Engage partners to help market program successes.
  • Leverage partner resources.
  • Engage students in evidence-based and effective self-care practices.

Highlights from the SBCOHS Grant Program

  • Summit Community Care Clinic (CO) established an Adopt-A-Student program whereby oral health professionals in private practice agreed to provide care to students who were not eligible to receive oral health care in the local FQHC and who could not afford to pay out of pocket.
  • To eliminate any distrust of the oral health care provided in the SBHC, Children's Dental Services (MN) reached out to leaders in the local Somali community to debunk misconceptions about the program. The project also employed staff from the Somali and other African refugee communities who provide care and translation services.

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