Special Projects Fund

Grantee Name

New York University-College of Dentistry

Funding Area

Special Projects Fund

Publication Date

January 2016

Grant Amount


Grant Date:

July 2013 – December 2014

The New York State Department of Health has documented severe disparities in children’s oral health status and access to oral health services in Poughkeepsie, a city located in Dutchess County.

Widespread poverty, unemployment, environmental challenges, a shortage of Medicaid-accepting dentists, and socioeconomic disparities are factors that have exacerbated the lack of access to dental care for the residents of Poughkeepsie. With previous funding from NYHealth, the New York University College of Dentistry (NYUCD) successfully implemented a financially sustainable oral health intervention program for children in the city of Hudson, located 40 miles north of Poughkeepsie. In 2013, NYHealth awarded a second grant to NYUCD to replicate this school-based dental health center intervention program in Poughkeepsie.

Under this grant, NYUCD set out to conduct a study to assess the oral health needs and access to oral health services of Early Head Start and Head Start enrollees, a national program to promote the school readiness of young children from low-income families. These findings would help inform its strategy to implement a school-based dental health program in Poughkeepsie and develop a sustainable strategy to ensure the program’s continuation after the grant period ends.

Outcomes and Lessons Learned

  • Surveyed 313 Head Start parents and examined 386 Head Start students, with results indicating that only 65% of children in Head Start received a dental examination in the past 12 months;
  • Designed a tailored intervention to improve oral health outcomes for this population;
  • Operated two school-based dental health programs in Poughkeepsie by bringing a team of pediatric dental providers and portable equipment to designated schools;
  • Served more than 600 children at Governor Clinton Elementary School and Early Learning Center through the programs;
  • Secured income generated by Medicaid billing to cover operational expenses and care for children lacking any insurance coverage; and
  • Collaborated with Hudson River HealthCare, which administers a health clinic in Poughkeepsie with dental services, to continue the program after NYUCD completed the project.

The Head Start study enabled NYUCD researchers to conduct in-depth analysis using data from the children’s dental examinations and the parent questionnaires to identify associations and areas that can be targeted for future interventions. The study aligned with previous research conducted in Dutchess County, which has shown oral health inequities to be a result of socioeconomic status (more than 60% of Poughkeepsie children in low-income families have cavities that go untreated). By implementing an ongoing school-based dental health strategy, the city is better positioned to serve children in the community.

Co-Funding and Additional Funds Leveraged: N/A