The Horizon Foundation of New Jersey Approves Next Phase of Kid’s Oral Health Program!

February 17, 2019        

Contact: Thomas Vincz


KOHP expansion to reach more children in need, bring focus to dangers of over-prescribed dental pain medications

(Newark, NJ, February 17, 2019) – The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey has renewed a $500,000, two-year grant to improve the dental health of underserved children through school and community-based oral health awareness/prevention programs and more affordable and convenient access to dental treatment services. The Kids’ Oral Health Program (KOHP) also includes funding to support professional development for health care providers, with the goal improved collaboration and care integration between pediatrics and dentistry.

Initiated as a pilot with ten non-profit organizations in 2016, the KOHP extended oral health education to more than 15,000 young people under age 18 in eleven counties over two years, while the ten grantees:

  • Applied sealants to more than 3,000 children
  • Filled cavities for 828 patients
  • Completed more than 3,700 fluoride treatments

The Foundation – which is the philanthropic arm of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey – recently awarded a new round of grants to New Jersey-based 501 (c) (3) non-profit organizations for the next two-year period for the KOHP in 10 counties with the most acute needs.

“Through our grantees, the KOHP has made remarkable progress in not only bringing dental services to thousands of children with financial and clinical need, but in bringing greater awareness and lifelong learning to kids and their families on how to maintain healthy smiles,” said Kevin Conlin, Chairman President and CEO of Horizon BCBSNJ and Chair of The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey. “By instilling better oral hygiene habits in children today, we’ll be better able to prevent serious health problems associated with poor dental habits among adults, including elevate risks for chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.”

In this next round of two-year grants, a total of eight organizations were each awarded $62,500 and will serve approximately 13,500 individuals. The grantees, and the high-need counties they serve include:

  • Gracious Smiles                                               Camden County
  • KinderSmile                                                     Essex, Morris and Passaic
  • Metropolitan Family Health Centers                  Hudson
  • NJ Chapter American Academy of Pediatrics    Essex, Hudson, Mercer and Passaic
  • Newark Community Health Centers                  Essex
  • Rutgers School of Dentistry                             Essex
  • Gateway Action Partnership                             Cumberland and Salem
  • Zufall Health Center                                          Morris and Warren

The grantees in Phase 2 of KOHP will focus on four areas to address the prevalence of preventable and treatable conditions of the teeth and gums of children up to age 18:

Education and awareness, including school and community-based awareness programs and parental engagement;

Prevention, including screenings, cleanings, sealants and the establishment of pediatric dental homes;

Treatment, including critical oral health treatments, such as examination, emergency care and other urgent interventions;

Professional Development, including integration of pediatrics and density and awareness and prevention of opioid abuse among dental patients.

“Kids need the best start possible to help maintain good overall health over a lifetime, and the Kids’ Oral Health program is focused on making that possible,” said Jonathan Pearson, Executive Director of The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey.   “We are asking grantees to redouble their efforts on prevention and treatment so New Jersey can win the battle against the most common and chronic childhood disease — tooth decay.”

About Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, the state’s oldest and largest health insurer is a tax-paying, not-for-profit health service corporation, providing a wide array of medical, dental, vision and prescription insurance products and services. Horizon BCBSNJ is leading the transformation of health care in New Jersey by working with doctors and hospitals to deliver innovative, patient-centered programs that reward the quality, not quantity, of care patients receive. Learn more at Horizon BCBSNJ is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association serving more than 3.8 million members.

About the Foundation:
The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey is committed to working alongside those who can help us improve our neighbors’ health, inform their health decisions and inspire them to lead healthier, more fulfilling lives. The Foundation’s funding pillars are Caring, Connecting and Creating. Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey is the sole member of The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, both of which are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information please visit

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