Step 1: Preparation

Find and Establish Community Partnerships

Planning, developing, and implementing a school-linked dental program needs collaboration with community partners. It is important to involve partners as early as possible in the planning process. Potential community partners are community organizations, groups, and/or agencies that are currently engaged in or have the expertise to contribute towards the focus area of the intended program, such as those involved in children’s equity efforts, children’s health, children’s oral health, or family healthcare services.

Steps to an Effective Collaboration



Further details on the process of developing successful partnerships can be obtained from ASTDD Handbook on Planning, Evaluating, and Improving Collaboration for Oral Health Programs and the Campus-Community Partnerships: Steps to Building a Collaborative Partnership.

Partners to Facilitate a School-Linked Oral Health Program

Communicating Effectively with Potential Partners

Effective communication is vital when sharing a program proposal with potential partners to gain their support. Tailor communication strategies to be relevant to the appropriate audience. Engaging oral health champions who strongly believe in the mission to improve oral health and who can successfully relay the message can gain support for the cause.

Developing a Memorandum of Understanding

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) is a formalized statement describing the terms and conditions of an agreement between two or more entities intending to collaborate toward a shared line of action. After having identified partners, the next step is to formalize the working relationship. Familiarity with the scope of work of each partner is essential before drawing up the terms and conditions. A series of discussions and brainstorming sessions between collaborating partners will enable each party to identify the essential steps of the program and the main aspects to incorporate under each section of the MOU. These preliminary discussions help partners reach common ground through negotiations and mutual agreement to work together to achieve the chosen goals.

Key Elements of an MOU

The critical elements of an MOU include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Purpose of the MOU
  2. Identify the collaborating partner(s) and their role(s)
  3. Enlist terms and conditions
    1. Identify logistical requirements
    2. Identify the required level of assistance
    3. Care coordination
    4. Quality assurance and data collection
  4. Indemnification
  5. Timeline and termination
  6. Signatures

Additional guidelines can be found here, with sample MOUs linked below. You can also view a webinar on establishing MOUs here.

Sample MOUs

Third grade preventive services MOU (Alameda County)

CDE Mobile Dental Provider Sample MOU

KOHA MOU (San Mateo County)

Create a Quality Improvement (QI) Plan

A quality improvement (QI) plan is an essential element of a program which allows you to track its progress. Developing a QI plan at the time of program planning can ensure a way to measure if the program is accomplishing the desired goals and objectives.

QI based on performance measures involves the practice of data-driven performance improvement to reduce redundancies, streamline processes, cut down costs, and improve outcomes.

PDSA (Plan Do Study Act) Model

The Plan Do Study Act (PDSA) method is an iterative, four-step problem-solving model used for improving a process or carrying out change. It can be utilized to  obtain quick feedback on the program’s progress. The model is executed and documented appropriately along the progress through the four steps.

Other QI Methods and Resources