News Release

The Foundation for Children Awarded Grant to Train Pediatricians to Provide Preventive Dental Service

Foundation Awards Over $370,000 to Nonprofits to Improve Health in Connecticut

HARTFORD, CT – The Connecticut Health Foundation (CT Health) awarded the Foundation for Children, based in Hartford, a one year $38,313 grant to support their “From the First Tooth: Engaging Medical Clinicians in Oral Health” project. This project provides training and technical assistance to pediatric and family doctors in providing preventative oral health care to young children. By applying fluoride varnish to children’s teeth in the medical office, making referrals to dentists, and educating families about healthy behaviors, this project reflects growing recognition of the need to integrate medical and dental care for children.

The Foundation for Children has over four years of experience operating “From the First Tooth” in Connecticut, and since inception has seen a steady increase in the number of non-dental physicians applying fluoride varnish to children.

“Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease affecting young children. It disproportionately affects low-income and minority children,” said Jillian G. Wood, executive director at the Foundation for Children. “When primary care practices include oral health in their standard of care, studies show that there is a significant decrease in the incidence of early childhood tooth decay,” Wood added.

“Connecticut has made significant strides in improving access to dental services for children at high risk for tooth decay, but the reality is that children are still more likely to see the doctor than the dentist.  By moving preventive care to the doctor’s office, we improve the oral health of children who are missed by the dental system,” said Tiffany Donelson, CT Health vice president of program.  Donelson added that doctors can bill for applying fluoride varnish in a pediatric setting.


Responsive Grants

  • Community Catalyst (Boston, national reach) was awarded a one year $50,000 general operating support grant for its New England Alliance for Children’s Health to develop and advance different policy options to mitigate enrollment volatility or “churn,” which is when people move between publicly financed and commercial health insurance with the risk of losing coverage in transitions due to income changes.
  • Hartford Healthcare HHC (Hartford, Statewide) was awarded a one year $100,000 grant for the second year of their “Primary Care Behavioral Health Integration Project.” HHC plans to continue to expand its primary care behavioral health collaborative care model from five pilot sites to seven. This model embeds behavioral health clinicians in HHC primary care offices, using a team-based model and community case manager follow up. Year two funding will support expansion of this model to New Britain and Windham as well as support the collection and analysis of meaningful data for these clinics.
  • NYU School of Medicine was awarded a one year $62,727 grant for their “Using Value-Based Insurance Design to Mitigate Health inequities in CT” project. Through this grant, NYU’s Department of Population Health proposes to partner with and provide valuable research for the Value Based Insurance Design (VBID) workgroup of the State Innovation Model (SIM). The goal of the SIM’s VBID workgroup Is to create insurance plans that incentivize patients to seek preventive, high value health care services by lowering their out of pocket expenses for these services. Through this project, NYU will provide SIM with an “evidence-based toolkit” for employers.

Solicited Grants: Oral Health Advocacy

  • The Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance (Hartford, statewide) received a two year $40,000 grant that will enable them to activate and build upon their current base of advocates to address oral health issues that affect low-income children and families. Advocates for systems that support the growth and development of very young children are natural allies for a children’s oral health agenda. This is a first time grantee for the CT Health Foundation.
  • Connecticut Association of School Based Health Centers CASBHC (North Haven, statewide reach) was awarded a two year $40,000 grant. A prior recipient of the Oral Health Advocacy grant, CASBHC plans continue building upon and strengthening the system of oral health advocates among school based health center staff, students, and parents to increase the number of dental programs in schools.  Funding will also support the creation of a guide for other school based health centers on how to integrate oral health into their clinics.
  • Eastern CT Area Health Education Center (Windham and New London counties) was awarded a two year $40,000 grant to implement the “From Caries to Care” project which seeks to grow the base of oral health advocates and strengthen oral health outcomes in eastern Connecticut.

President’s Discretionary Grants

  • Children’s Dental Health Project (national reach) was awarded a ten month $15,000 grant to fund strategic consultation regarding their future organizational structure.
  • Connecticut Alliance for Basic Human Needs (via fiscal sponsor End Hunger Connecticut!) (Hartford) was awarded a $20,000 general operating support grant to continue its education and advocacy work, including work to reduce disparities in access to health care and health coverage, while planning for the alliance’s future under a new organizational structure.
  • Naugatuck Valley Project, Inc. (greater Waterbury) was awarded a one year grant for $15,000 to support their “Waterbury Hospital Community Benefit Agreement Campaign. The campaign is driven by and on behalf of low-income families and people of color in the greater Waterbury area with the goal of ensuring that the hospital’s community health needs assessments and community benefit programs will reflect the group’s priorities as the hospital is acquired by Prospect Medical.

About the Connecticut Health Foundation

The Connecticut Health Foundation (CT Health) is the state’s largest independent health philanthropy dedicated to improving lives by changing health systems. Since it was established in 1999, the foundation has supported innovative grantmaking, public policy research technical assistance and convening to achieve its mission – to improve the health of the people of Connecticut. Over the past 17 years, CT Health has awarded grants totaling close to $59 million in 45 cities and towns throughout the state.

In 2013, CT Health announced a five-year strategic plan that made expanding health equity the foundation’s central focus. For CT Health, health equity means helping more people gain access to better care, especially people of color and underserved populations. Better care includes physical, mental, and oral health.

For more information about the foundation, please visit or contact vice president of policy and communications, Elizabeth Krause, at or 860.724.1580, ext. 14.