School Dental Van Program

One week prior to the November 2018 Victorian Election, the Victorian Labor Party made a policy announcement to introduce school dental vans to provide free dental care to all students at Victorian government primary and secondary schools.

The commitment includes 250 school dental vans, with screening and treatment to occur on school premises. The program, now called the ‘Smile Squad’, will offer free general dental care but exclude orthodontics. All children attending Victorian government primary and secondary schools will be eligible, utilising Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS) funding where possible.

Key information from Smile Squad budget documents:

  • Annual screening and treatment of more than 630,000 primary and secondary students in public schools, on school days
  • Costings: total cost estimated to be $322 million, with approximately $128 million coming from the CDBS
  • Piloting in four locations from August 2019: Box Hill, Barwon South, Cranbourne and Wodonga
  • Expected coverage of 50% of schools in 2020, 75% in 2021 and 100% in 2022
  • 100% take-up for screening, and 35% of those who are screened will require treatment
  • Where possible all treatment will be provided in vans.

One week prior to the November 2018 Victorian Election, the Victorian Labor Party made a policy announcement to introduce school dental vans to provide free dental care to all students at Victorian government primary and secondary schools.

The commitment includes 250 school dental vans, with screening and treatment to occur on school premises. The program, now called the ‘Smile Squad’, will offer free general dental care but exclude orthodontics. All children attending Victorian government primary and secondary schools will be eligible, utilising Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS) funding where possible.

Key information from Smile Squad budget documents:

  • Annual screening and treatment of more than 630,000 primary and secondary students in public schools, on school days
  • Costings: total cost estimated to be $322 million, with approximately $128 million coming from the CDBS
  • Piloting in four locations from August 2019: Box Hill, Barwon South, Cranbourne and Wodonga
  • Expected coverage of 50% of schools in 2020, 75% in 2021 and 100% in 2022
  • 100% take-up for screening, and 35% of those who are screened will require treatment
  • Where possible all treatment will be provided in vans.

ADAVB Position

While this is a positive increase in child oral health funding, ADAVB is monitoring how the program will integrate into the existing public and private dental sectors.

Concerns that ADAVB has raised include:

  • Encouraging parental engagement or involvement in treatment and prevention
  • Obtaining adequate informed consent without the parent present during treatment, particularly for younger children
  • Impact on existing patient-dentist relationships by moving children from their current provider of choice to the school dental program, including the impact on practice viability
  • Continuity of care with different providers through the school dental program
  • Logistics issues, including electronic records and referral systems
  • Workforce issues, including recruitment and retention of sufficient workforce
  • Provision of specialist dental care for complex cases.

ADAVB is in ongoing discussions with the Government about the program, and we have requested involvement in stakeholder working groups to guide the development of the program, particularly the evaluation.

 

While this is a positive increase in child oral health funding, ADAVB is monitoring how the program will integrate into the existing public and private dental sectors.

Concerns that ADAVB has raised include:

  • Encouraging parental engagement or involvement in treatment and prevention
  • Obtaining adequate informed consent without the parent present during treatment, particularly for younger children
  • Impact on existing patient-dentist relationships by moving children from their current provider of choice to the school dental program, including the impact on practice viability
  • Continuity of care with different providers through the school dental program
  • Logistics issues, including electronic records and referral systems
  • Workforce issues, including recruitment and retention of sufficient workforce
  • Provision of specialist dental care for complex cases.

ADAVB is in ongoing discussions with the Government about the program, and we have requested involvement in stakeholder working groups to guide the development of the program, particularly the evaluation.

 

Resources

Posters

Continuity of care - promoting having a regular dentist

Medicare CDBS poster

Healthy teeth, happy kids poster (limited hard copies available)

 

Brochures & Flyers

Healthy snacks for healthy teeth brochure (limited hard copies available)

Oral health milestones flyer (can also be printed as a fridge magnet)

Oral health milestones flyer (3 per page)

Colouring in sheet

Posters

Continuity of care - promoting having a regular dentist

Medicare CDBS poster

Healthy teeth, happy kids poster (limited hard copies available)

 

Brochures & Flyers

Healthy snacks for healthy teeth brochure (limited hard copies available)

Oral health milestones flyer (can also be printed as a fridge magnet)

Oral health milestones flyer (3 per page)

Colouring in sheet

Engaging with children and families in private practices

Offer a free oral health care kit for kids containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and other items which can be promoted in recall letters.

Send recalls prior to school holidays (if aligns with correct recall period for the patient).

Encourage parents to make the most of their private health insurance extras cover, especially approaching end of the calendar year when annual benefits expire or early in the year when the new year’s benefits become available.

Offer a free oral health care kit for kids containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and other items which can be promoted in recall letters.

Send recalls prior to school holidays (if aligns with correct recall period for the patient).

Encourage parents to make the most of their private health insurance extras cover, especially approaching end of the calendar year when annual benefits expire or early in the year when the new year’s benefits become available.

Contact Us

We would like to talk to ADAVB members working in the pilot areas (Box Hill, Barwon South, Cranbourne and Wodonga) to monitor the roll-out of the program and how it might affect children’s attendance at local private practices. If your practice is located in one of the pilot areas, please contact us at ask@adavb.org  

Are you a family member of a child that has attended a Smile Squad school dental van? If you would like to share your experience, please contact us at ask@adavb.org

We would like to talk to ADAVB members working in the pilot areas (Box Hill, Barwon South, Cranbourne and Wodonga) to monitor the roll-out of the program and how it might affect children’s attendance at local private practices. If your practice is located in one of the pilot areas, please contact us at ask@adavb.org  

Are you a family member of a child that has attended a Smile Squad school dental van? If you would like to share your experience, please contact us at ask@adavb.org

Additional Information
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