The UCLA School of Dentistry has received a $9 million grant aimed at increasing access to dental care for Los Angeles children from birth to age 5. First 5 LA, a child advocacy and grant-making organization, awarded the funding to UCLA in response to what it sees as an urgent need for improved oral health care for Latino and African American children who are at high-risk for early dental disease.

UCLA has partnered with the Child Care Alliance of Los Angeles, the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County, Safety Net Solutions, and the Sesame Workshop as part of the initiative.

This group of organizations will work with 10 to 12 community clinics in the Greater Los Angeles area to establish a “dental home” model of care for young children. According to an announcement from the university, services will be delivered in a continuously accessible and family-centered way by licensed dentists and other health care providers.

The major objectives of the initiative, called the First 5 LA 21st Century Community Dental Homes Project, will be to deliver quality dental care to young children, to increase parents’ and child care providers’ awareness of the importance of oral health care for preschool children, and to develop a sustainable community “dental home” model of care for these children.

“As a prototype for community-based systems of oral health care, this project promises to bring about preventative and lasting improvements in oral health, not only in the Los Angeles community but eventually at national and global scales as well,” said No-Hee Park, DMD, PhD, dean of the UCLA School of Dentistry.

James J. Crall, DDS, MS, ScD, professor and chair of the division of public health and community dentistry at the UCLA School of Dentistry and a member of theUCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities, will serve as project director of the oral health care initiative.