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The National Maternal and Child Oral Health Policy Centre (Policy Centre), in its charge to enhance policymakers’ knowledge to address ongoing oral health disparities, identified the need to engage key state leaders to assess the challenges and barriers to investing in the oral health of families.

Children’s Dental Health Project along with the National Academy for State Health Policy (both Policy Centre partner organizations) engaged 15 state leaders from CHIP, Medicaid, public health, and health policy in a focus group to assess the challenges states face in maintaining and expanding state oral health programs.

The focus group responded to three core questions:

  1. What challenges, other than budgetary shortfalls, are the states facing?
  2. Who needs more information to make informed decisions concerning oral health and how should that information be conveyed?
  3. What are the primary barriers states are facing to implementing innovative new policies and programs to address oral health issues?

The findings of the focus group are intended for use by the Policy Centre to develop information and tools for policymakers, advocates, and state officials to better address the oral health of families across the country.

This report does not identify by name participants or states which allowed participants to speak frankly about their challenges and the facilitators to focus on the collective themes rather than the uniqueness of the individual states. The following document provides a full summary of the proceedings of the focus group.