Program Leadership & Staff Capacity

Strong leadership and skilled staff are key components for maintaining a state oral health program that can improve the oral health of its citizens.

State oral health programs are working toward two Healthy People 2020 objectives to increase the number of dental directors with public health training and access to trained epidemiological services:

  • Healthy People 2020external icon (Oral Health 17.1) Increase the proportion of state health departments and local health agencies that serve jurisdictions of 250,000 or more people with a dental public health program directed by a dental professional with public health training.
  • Healthy People 2020external icon (Public Health Infrastructure 13.1) Increase the proportion of tribal, state, and local public health agencies that provide or assure comprehensive epidemiology services to support essential public health services.

Preferred public health skill sets that support state oral health programs should include the following:

  • Dental professional with public health training.
  • Epidemiologist with knowledge of oral health data sets and the ability to engage that data.
  • Program coordinator and manager with experience implementing federal grants or cooperative agreements including monitoring performance and maintaining accountability.
  • Public health educator/health communication specialist with experience in translating and disseminating public health science and knowledge of health literacy concepts and activities.
  • Policy analyst with experience assessing policies that relate to oral health, prioritizing policy impact, and translating policy and system change strategies throughout the oral health program.
  • Evaluator with experience in quantitative and qualitative evaluation experience that can translate progress into success stories.

Preferred public health skill sets to support the implementation of evidence-based programs should include the following:

  • School-based sealant program coordinator that organizes the implementation and collection of data to increase the number of children aged 6-9 years who have a sealant on one permanent molar.
  • Community water fluoridation coordinator(s) with skills sets in engineering or public health education, or both to increase the number of people with access to optimally fluoridated water to prevent tooth decay.

States may wish to acquire or increase staff capacity for cross cutting budget, administrative, policy, communications, epidemiology, and evaluation activities by sharing positions among CDC-funded chronic disease and Maternal and Child Health (MCH) funded maternal and child health programs.

If states have insufficient funding or mechanisms to hire dedicated staff, they may seek ways to build leadership and staff capacity by leveraging existing state resources or contracting with outside partners to support the work of the program.

To learn more about public health skill sets for state oral health programs visit ASTDD’s State Oral Health Program Competencies and Competency Toolsexternal icon.


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