More than 22 years of success & gratitude

By the CDHP team

This blog was written by Dr. Burton Edelstein, DDS, MPH, Senior Fellow in Public Policy and Founding Chair Emeritus of the Children’s Dental Health Project. Dr. Edelstein is also Professor of Dental Medicine and Health Policy & Management at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

All good things must come to an end, is a fitting proverb to reflect upon today as we approach the close of 2019 and the close – after more than 20 years – of the Children’s Dental Health Project. In successfully accomplishing its founding mission of securing access to dental coverage for all children, CDHP has made its mark. It has also established pediatric oral health policy as a bona fide public endeavor and has influenced a host of individuals and organizations to continue championing oral health.

CDHP has been likened to the little engine that could — a small, nimble, niche “policy machine” that accomplished far more than its size would anticipate. This is due to the smart, committed, and determined people who have managed, staffed, and partnered with the organization. By staying true to mission, speaking for consumers, being strategic, and partnering widely with others, CDHP successfully engaged federal and state policymakers and advocates to benefit those who have no voice of their own. 

Because the work of advancing oral health for all is not yet done, we look now to you to ensure that the energy of that “policy machine” is sustained.

The results are both impressive and satisfying. But they are also insufficient for the current health care landscape that is now about delivery and finance reforms, including oral health integration into larger systems of care. In this environment, I am pleased that CDHP’s intellectual resources (including its web pages, and will be transferred to our national partner, Community Catalyst.

Community Catalyst’s “first priority is quality affordable health care for all.” Its mission is “to organize and sustain a powerful consumer voice to ensure that all individuals and communities can influence the local, state and national decisions that affect their health.”

You can read more about them and CDHP’s transition at

As CDHP’s founder, I am privileged to reflect on the quality, integrity, and dynamism of the people who did the day-to-day work of digging down deep “into the weeds,” building impactful relationships, and pursuing policies for the greater good. To them, I express my deepest gratitude.

And to all of you who have been with us over the last two decades, I add my personal thanks. I thank current and past Board Directors and outgoing staff members Meg, Akilah, Libby, Matt, Colin, Deborah, and Amy and all who came before them. Special thanks to Board Chair Kevin Thomas for so thoughtfully guiding CDHP through a responsible and dignified wind-down.

Because the work of advancing oral health for all is not yet done, we look now to you to ensure that the energy of that “policy machine” is sustained. To our many advocacy and policy partners, CDHP’s greatest legacy will be your continued integration of oral health into your work. To our funders, we encourage each of you to continue investing in these partners. To the many policymakers who have worked with CDHP, we look to you to continue making sustainable changes toward equity and systems changes that integrate oral health with overall health.

I invite you to keep in touch with me at You can also reach out to CDHP and Community Catalyst staff during this transitional time at Thank you all.

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Did you know?

44% }
of U.S. children will have at least one cavity by kindergarten.
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