NCPTA Announces Partnership with MemberHub

We heard your feedback requesting ways to simplify volunteerism and encourage engagement. MemberHub is an all-in-one communication platform for “all things involvement” in your school!

Webinar for PTA Officers

This mandatory webinar for PTA Officers that will prepare you to setup and use the new tool. View recorded webinar. For the webinar presentation, please contact MemberHub.

MemberHub Benefits

 Some of the great free tools include:

  • An easy to use directory
  • Schedule and coordinate sign-ups
  • Share calendars, files and photos
  • Take on-line payments for PTA dues and events
  • Send principal, teacher and parents messages and reminders via text and email
  • Access MemberHub on your computer or the free iPhone or Android App!
  • And much much more…

Communications will be shared about how to get started. Your school site will already be created and all you need to do is login securely, create your password and start using this awesome new tool.

MemberHub Resources

A Youth Leader’s Perspective on Access to Oral Health Care

Jacquelyn Hedrick, YES! Youth Staff

According to data collected in 2008 from North Carolina schools, students with poor oral health were three times as likely as those with good oral health to miss school. What this means is that over 3.4 million academic hours were missed due to dental care, and approximately 720,000 of those hours were missed due to pain. Regardless the quality of the school or education, if students aren’t mentally and physically present, they aren’t able to learn. Absences can significantly impact a student’s performance in school; dental decay, dental pain, and other conditions, while completely preventable, can and are adversely affecting the lives of me and my North Carolina peers.

Lack of access to oral health care plagues North Carolinian students and hinders them from reaching their full potential as learners. There are four counties within the state that do not have a single dentist within their borders. For those without access to transportation or the ability to take off work, this is a major obstacle to care. Even for those people who do live in areas that do have dentists, disparities exist. In 2014, the American Dental Association highlighted that only 27% of NC dentists accepted public forms of insurance because of its low reimbursement rates, leaving those in lower income brackets still without care despite being close to a dentist. While the argument often made is that people can visit free clinics or mobile dental offices, this is not always an option. Nothing better exemplifies this struggle than the tragedy that befell Deamonte Driver.

Alyce Driver of Maryland, Deamonte’s mother, was searching high and low for a dentist that would treat her other son’s six rotting teeth. As they experienced homelessness, lacked transportation, lapsed out of Medicaid, and struggled to maintain phone numbers or addresses, Alyce Driver’s search proved fruitless and exhausting. Even those the Driver family sought help from at shelters could not find a dentist that would treat them. On January 11, 2007, twelve-year old Deamonte Driver arrived home from school complaining of a headache. After visiting the hospital, he was given medicine to treat his headache, a dental abscess, and sinusitis. However, the next day, things were much worse, and they returned to the hospital where he was rushed into emergency brain surgery. He then experienced severe seizures and underwent a second operation to remove his abscessed tooth. It was at this point that his condition began to improve. One morning, at 6 AM, Alyce Driver received a call from Deamonte’s grandmother. He was unresponsive. When she arrived, her son was dead. His causes of death were listed as “meningoencephalitis” and “subdural empyema,” both associated with brain infections. Today, many advocates argue that his cause of death was really a lack of access to preventative care.

It is important to analyze which students these issues most often affect. The study listed above found that the variables most often associated with poor school performance were “gender (male), race (Black), grade in school (6–12), parental educational level (high school), health insurance (public), and those with special health care needs”.

Eliminating the dental pain a student experiences, ensuring they receive preventative care at a permanent dental home for the student, and guaranteeing the student is covered by health insurance which provides for oral health care can improve the attendance, performance, and confidence of a student who would otherwise struggle. This statement begs the question of how we, as a community of students, parents, and teachers, can support the provision of these things for and improve the oral health of all students of North Carolina.

One of the most attainable solutions to this problem focuses on the variable of health insurance, especially in the current legislative climate. Raising reimbursement rates for Medicaid would make accepting this form of insurance a more attractive and viable option for dental practices across North Carolina. 1,833,630 people were enrolled in Medicaid as of July 2015, but only a quarter of dental practices in NC accepting Medicaid. Another strategy that is being implemented in 39 other states is modernizing North Carolina’s Dental Practice Act to allow all dental health providers to practice up to their educational capacity, and therefore increasing access to care. These strategies would allow a greater proportion of that already large population to receive regular, preventative care which greatly reduces the chance of what happened to Deamonte, happening to a North Carolina student.

To get involved with our movement, go to OralHealthNC.org and join the mailing list. Also, mark your calendar for April 5th when North Carolinians will gather for Oral Health Day at the Legislature. Together, our voice is powerful.

Top 5 Things Your Family Can Do to Promote Healthy Dental Habits

Archie Cook, Jr. DDS,
Signature Smiles of Cary, NC

As a new dad, I am learning how important it is to be a positive example of healthy habits and hygiene for our daughter. She really does watch and mimic everything we do! Why not give her a set of habits to learn and mimic that will give her a head start on healthy living? At Signature Smiles of Cary, NC, we believe in educating and making each patient aware of the best things that they can do to improve their oral care, which leads to overall healthcare. We spend time with each patient to help answer questions and ensure that he or she understands recommended treatments and next steps – it’s your health after all and we believe every patient deserves the best!

To kick off 2017 and to help celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month, we wanted to share with you the top 5 tips that we share with our families at Signature Smiles!

  1. Brush and floss twice a day, and most important, brush and floss before bed! This goes for your entire family, including your children, once they learn to floss. Overnight, while you are sleeping, the salivary flow in your mouth decreases. Saliva acts as a buffer to help block acids produced by bacteria in the food and drinks we consume. However, the decreased flow of saliva at night makes your teeth more prone to decay if you do not brush and floss before bedtime. Brushing also gives your teeth fluoride to further protect against these acid producing bacteria overnight. Make brushing and flossing a family event and make it FUN! Reinforce positive behavior and be an example for your little ones.
  1. See your dentist on a regular basis, and find a dentist who your family trusts, and someone who can help to put your family at ease. We often hear people complain about how expensive dental work is, and the old saying “prevention is less expensive than intervention” is very true! Regular visits along with proper dental care at home really are the best ways you can help keep your families’ dental care needs to a minimum.
  1. Eat more cheese! Did you know that cheese helps to increase the pH levels in your mouth, which help to neutralize the acids caused by bacteria that cause decay? Acidic mouth environments are more likely to see tooth decay, so having a bit of cheese after your meal whenever you are not able to brush is a great way to buffer those acids and reduce potential decay. String cheese and cube cheese are fun lunch options for not only your children, but for you too!
  1. Maintain a healthy, clean diet in order to help promote total body and oral health. The same foods and drinks that are “good for your body” are also great for your family’s teeth! Crunchy fruits and veggies, cheeses, meats, nuts, milk and water are all great foods and drinks to incorporate into your family diet.
  1. Oral care is a gateway to the rest of your body’s health. Multiple studies have shown links between bacteria, infections and decay in our mouths and other serious health conditions. Did you know that people who have serious gum disease are 40% more likely to have a chronic health condition? We often want to make sure our families exercise, eat healthy and get good sleep to be health. Don’t neglect your oral care when thinking of your family’s health. Foods and drinks that are high in calcium and phosphorus help to protect tooth enamel, and food and drink with high water content help to dilute the sugar we consume and also stimulate saliva flow. As you know, sugary foods and drinks can contribute to bacteria and tooth decay. Find fun healthy options for your family and when you do enjoy special treats, be sure to brush and floss afterwards!

We know your family’s health and well-being is important to you. It’s important that your children learn healthy habits so that it becomes a priority for them too. At Signature Smiles, we work very hard to ensure that all our patients, from 2 to 82, learn about healthy oral care habits and have a head start at a healthy life. Here’s to a healthy and happy 2017!

Courage + Love = Essential Ingredients to Achieving Oral Health Equity

Zulayka Santiago, MPA
Director, NC Oral Health Collaborative

When I was nine years old I began to see the world for what it is: heartbreaking and beautiful, all at the same time. We had been living in Kenner, LA for three years by then, having moved there from my birthplace, Puerto Rico. My sister and I had just begun to acclimate to the new language, our new school, and the cold weather. My mother was working as a housekeeper and nanny for the Blooms, a family in town that had 5 adopted children, the father was a lawyer, and the mother was dying of cancer.

At this young age I began to see the stark differences between their large home (my mom sometimes brought my sister and I along to help) and our small 2-bedroom public housing apartment. Their private school (all 5 children went to an impressive looking catholic school) and our public school. We were lucky enough to have Medicaid for a period of time, which enabled us to get the medical care we needed, but dental care was another story.

I remember having to accompany my mother one time as she drove one of the older Bloom kids, David, to his dentist appointment. The office was located in a new office building, everything was clean, colorful and sparkly. Much to my delight, the waiting area was filled with books and toys. The appointment went quickly, and when David came out of his appointment, he had a huge smile on his face and was thrilled to report that he had no cavities!

A few months later, it was time for our dental visit. We didn’t head to a shiny office building, instead we went to somebody’s home across town. More specifically, we went to their garage. There, a make-shift dental office had been established. A gently used dentist chair, a sink near the wall, and all the basic equipment need to provide the dental care we were seeking at a much lower price. Overall it was a positive experience—aside from the needles and drilling (my sister and I were not cavity-free). The dentist was kind, his wife was welcoming to us, they were both warm, and most importantly, spoke to my mother in her native language.

I’ve now learned that those clinics are ‘clandestine dental clinics’, established by dentists trained in Latin America, who are unable to get their licensure/credentials in the US due to language or other barriers. There have been some horror stories associated with these clinics, but I’m grateful to report that our family had no complaints. Which is a good thing, because I don’t think we would have been able to access care otherwise.

These differences in access to healthcare, education, and living situations are still quite prevalent across the US. Differences that result in the exacerbation of health disparities, which are particularly heartbreaking in low-income communities because of the many other barriers they contend with. Health equity is defined by the Oral Health 2020 network as the attainment of the highest level of health for all people. At the heart of the concept of health disparities is a concern about social justice—that is, justice with respect to the treatment of more advantaged vs. less advantaged socioeconomic groups when it comes to health and health care.

Part of our work at the NC Oral Health Collaborative is to help highlight some very important facts:

  1. The mouth is indeed part of the body, and oral health is an essential part of overall health.
  2. Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease of early childhood. In fact, it’s a condition that is 2-3 times more common than asthma or obesity.
  3. Dental care remains the greatest unmet health need among U.S. children. Children with untreated tooth decay not only suffer pain and infection, they have trouble eating, talking, socializing, sleeping, and learning, all of which can impair school performance.
  4. Left untreated, dental disease can lead to emergency room (ER) visits, hospitalizations, and even death.

The saddest, or perhaps the most inspiring aspect of this situation is that it is TOTALLY PREVENTABLE. Sad because we’ve let things get this bad, inspiring because we can now choose to make things better. We can harness our tremendous wisdom, skills and resources to ensure that ALL of our children have access to essential preventive services. In NC we’ve done a great job of ensuring that young children have access to fluoride varnish treatments in their pediatric visits through the nationally-recognized Into the Mouths of Babes program. However, there is another essential aspect to prevention that we are not doing so great at: dental sealants: plastic coatings placed on the chewing surfaces of teeth

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dental sealants can reduce decay by 80 percent in the two years after placement, and continue to be effective for nearly five years. Because sealants are such an effective means of preventing tooth decay, they have been endorsed by the American Dental Association. Dental sealants are one-third the cost of a filling, so their use can save patients, families, and states money. Sealant programs based in schools are an optimal way to reach children—especially low-income children who have trouble accessing dental care.

Yet despite all of this compelling evidence, NC has not yet maximized access to and use of this preventative measure. It is time for us to do everything within our power to ensure that as many children as possible can easily access this service that could have significant impact on children’s performance in school and their future contribution to the economic base of our state as adults. This will require both a change of mindset and a willingness to address systemic barriers to progress. This is one of the main priority areas for the NCOHC in 2017, and of course we’d invite all of you to join us in this endeavor!

Achieving oral health equity will require focused and ongoing efforts to address historical and contemporary injustices-AND the systems that perpetuate inequities. This is not easy work, but in this time of political upheaval and uncertainty in the US, it is more important than ever that we did deep to connect with our courage to take on this necessary work. “Love” becomes an active verb when we are willing to engage the work required to bring it to life. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr.:

“What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.”  

162 PTAs Win Gold Key Membership Award from NCPTA

The North Carolina PTA annually recognizes PTAs across the state for building strong teams of parent and teacher volunteers. The Gold Key Award acknowledges PTAs who received the Blue Key Award for 2016-2017 and added 25 new members by January 15.

Read the full list of recipients for the 2016-2017 Gold Key Award.

Every Child: Healthy Schools and Successful Students Training

An interactive and collaborative meeting for health and wellness chairs, advocacy chairs, and PTA officers, we’ll dig deep into our Health and Wellness Advocacy Priorities and develop our PTA vision of what a healthy and successful school looks like in 2020.

Monday, March 13, 2017
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
NCPTA Office
3501 Glenwood Ave.
Raleigh, NC

We have assistance available for travel costs for those coming from outside of the Triangle area! Email Marianne with any questions. Lunch will be provided.

Registration is required by March 1. Space is limited.






Register Today

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NCPTA Seeking Interim Executive Director

The North Carolina PTA is looking for a skilled part-time interim executive director to assess current operations and to help guide the organization’s strategic direction.  The ideal candidate will have successful experience in:

  • Serving as an interim executive director
  • Managing staff and working with nonprofit boards
  • Conducting staffing assessments and restructuring organizations
  • Managing change
  • Fundraising, including managing a membership program
  • Running an executive director search process

The ideal candidate would also be able to spend at least 20 hours a week in the Raleigh office, with availability to travel to other locations around the state.

About the North Carolina PTA

The North Carolina Parent Teacher Association is the state’s oldest and largest volunteer organization advocating for the education, health, safety and success of all children and youth while building strong families and communities. The NCPTA impacts more than 685,000 children and their families across the state.

Timeline for Hiring

  • Application deadline: January 27th
  • Notification of final candidates: January 30th
  • Phone interviews: likely February 2nd and 3rd
  • In-person interviews in Raleigh: likely the week of February 6th
  • Final decision: February 13th
  • Ideal start date: March 1st

Application Details

To be considered, please submit a resume and cover letter to president@ncpta.org by 5 pm on Friday, January 27th.  If you have questions about the opportunity, please contact Kelly Langston at president@ncpta.org

Using Your Voice to Help Provide Access for All

Amy Kobos – Health and Wellness Promoter, Fayetteville

Did you know that 1 in 4 children in North Carolina are at risk for hunger, and that nearly 30% of children under the age of 18 live in poverty?

We can easily assume people come from the same place as us, and we even get wrapped up in our own bubble thinking everyone has similar advantages, but in reality we know this isn’t true. Many American children and families struggle. Don’t assume every student has the privilege to have college freely financed or have parents who can help with homework. Many children don’t even have the privilege to eat a healthy meal, have a safe place outside to exercise, or have a family member they can count on.

The opportunity to access health and healthy living across different populations and how various social determinants can impact this is what is called HEALTH EQUITY.

Examples of health inequity are:

  • Not having access to grocery stores that offer nutritious food. These neighborhoods are typically saturated with nearby convenient stores.
  • Inability to receive mortgage loans based on the zip code you reside. Data show that African-American populations are the most affected.
  • Not having access to safe places to exercise. Even if there is a park nearby, often it is an area where kids cannot go alone.
  • Not being able to receive adequate life skills education or school guidance in the home environment because of absence of parental figures/other support. Hispanic and African-American communities are at the highest risk, but is not limited to these populations.
  • Possessing a higher rate of chronic disease, low birth weight, mental illness, including suicidality based on sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, and gender norms.

Health inequity negatively impacts child development. If a child does not have access, this will likely adversely affect his/her health in the future.

According to the World Health Organization, health inequities are “systematic, socially produced (and therefore modifiable) and unfair.” This can be bad, and this can be good; the good being that you have the power to improve it.

WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF HEALTH INEQUITY AND WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Social determinants affect health outcomes. The six major categories are:

  1. Economic stability: employment, medical bills, debt, expenses, etc.
  2. Neighborhood and physical environment: housing, transportation, walkability, playgrounds, etc.
  3. Education: literacy, language, early childhood education, etc.
  4. Food: hunger, access to healthy options, etc.
  5. Community and social context: social integration, racism, discrimination, social support systems, etc.
  6. The healthcare system.

You might think that we live in a very equally opportunistic country, but I can assure you this is false. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation provides us with a more in depth explanation of how this might be. But, YOU CAN help improve this as an NCPTA member by providing access and resources your students might not be able to get at home. Assume all children are at risk. Focus on a few of these social determinants in your school to improve health equity.

FOOD

  • Advocate for school lunches to be highly nutritious (whole foods vs. processed foods).
  • For the students receiving free lunches, connect with community partners, like Backpack Buddies and Mobile Meals to make sure students are receiving nutritious meals on the weekends and in the summers. Click here for additional information and programs which can assist students in North Carolina.
  • During fundraising or other school events/celebrations, ditch the pizza and ice cream. Instead, try celebrating with different ethnic themed cuisines and healthy ingredients (this also celebrates cultural diversity). Examples could be taco buffets, Greek salads, Indian curry, or Italian spaghetti with zucchini spirals for pasta. Ingredients could be donated and sponsored by local restaurants/grocers.
  • Provide education on how to create healthy meals on a small budget and/or without parental guidance.
  • Create and maintain a school community garden. This would assure students healthy food they could take home and cook. Buncombe County schools partner with FEAST (Fresh, Easy, Affordable, Sustainable, and Tasty) who incorporates classroom time dedicated to learning how to grow and cook your own food.

COMMUNITY AND SOCIAL CONTEXT

  • Connect with organizations, like Big Brothers Big Sisters or other student mentoring organizations, to offer support which hones in on developmental assets and/or assisting in helping prepare students who need an extra hand with homework.
  • Pair up every student with either a counselor/volunteer/teacher’s assistant/parent, etc. to check in throughout the semester to make sure students are able to get forms filled out, attain college prep and/or career literacy, able to meet registration deadlines (like driver’s education), ability to pay, being heard about any at-home obstacles students may be facing that may inhibit access to healthy living/learning opportunities. This can also act as assessment that could provide data to help receive funding for additional resources for students. We cannot assume every child has someone they can count on at home.
  • Require classes which prepare students for real life that emphasizes on professionalism and taking the initiative; for example, public speaking and career prep.

NEIGHBORHOOD AND PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT

  • Require physical education classes every semester until graduation.
  • Incorporate physical activity in classroom learning.
  • Advocate for open use agreements allowing school facilities to be used by the community during non-school hours.
  • Advocate for secure, safe parks/green spaces to be built in lower-income/rural/urban neighborhoods.

Change isn’t going to happen globally or nationally overnight, but know that change will happen more rapidly and effectively if implemented on a local scale. This means you can be successful. Partner with community organizations and resources, make your team grow, be the role models, and set the example of how society can improve the future for our children and country. Strive to create access for all.

Celebrating Cultural Diversity

Amy Kobos – Health and Wellness Promoter, Fayetteville

Music is a universal language, and at the same time, unique to every group of people. You could be Haitian, Alaskan, African-American, Japanese, Eastern-European, or Middle-Eastern creating the music—or appreciating the music. Music is one way we can effectively communicate who we are as an individual or as a culture. It takes dedicated work and practice to connect and celebrate our diversity, and it is inevitable there will always be differences that challenge unity. An inclusive PTA that values diversity contributes to a healthy school climate for children. But how can we make it happen?

There are two subtle (and not-so-subtle) challenges to honoring and celebrating diversity: stereotyping and racism. According to Simple Psychology, stereotyping has a purpose: it helps us react rapidly to situations that have happened before. The disadvantage is when we tend to ignore the differences between individuals; therefore, we make false generalizations and assumptions. Stereotyping makes it “easy” to characterize a person or group, typically in a negative context from what one was led to believe. In music, we concentrate on and appreciate the individuality of the artist or band and we need to challenge ourselves to do the same in human-to-human interaction on an everyday basis.

Racism is the discrimination or prejudice based on race and is the belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others, and often goes hand in hand with stereotyping. While racism has improved in the past 100 years, it’s still a widespread problem. There are three levels of racism: institutionalized, personally mediated racism (including microaggressions), and internalized racism.

Try one of these activities at your school to explore and celebrate your diversity:

Activity 1: Discussion.
Have a conversation about cultural diversity with your students. Ask them where they think they are as a society and why? What obstacles are they currently observing in society? Do they have a personal story to share? What needs to be changed? How are they personally going to help contribute in celebrating cultural diversity on a day-to-day basis?

Activity 2: Identity arts project.  
To emphasize the importance of cultural appreciation, mutual respect, and human connection amongst each other in the classroom, have the students prepare and present an artistic project that demonstrates their background and identity, their challenges, and where they are in the process. The project could be creative writing, visual arts, music, or more!

Activity 3: Narrative.
Challenge students to write descriptively about a time that they experienced stereotyping or racism. Describe the circumstances and how you felt. What did you do? In retrospect, is there anything you would do differently?

Activity 4: Cultural Nights.
Host a single event or multiple nights for the different groups that make your school special and unique. Music, dance, and foods can all be used as an opportunity to share your culture with other students and families, and provide an opportunity for you to learn from other families in your school. These can include a PTA meeting or academic information for parents!

Keep in mind that diversity should not be a reason to label people or cultures. Stereotyping and racism prevent people and/or cultures from the full potential of contributing to society in a positive way. This suppression stifles our communities’ ability to grow and evolve. Embracing diversity opens up a world full of possibility.” – Julie Palmer, Health Coach for RivalHealth

I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has had to overcome while trying to succeed.” Booker T. Washington.

Debate vs. Discussion: Strategies for Healthier Conversations

Amy Kobos – Health and Wellness Promoter, Fayetteville

We’re passionate about our beliefs and what we think is right or wrong.  We want to make our points clear and strong to people like our partners, co-workers, school board, and politicians. But, oftentimes, these conversations get heated. Debates aren’t always unhealthy.  Debating has purpose. It teaches individuals how to feel confident and be able to defend their ground. Debating provides us with the necessary tools to cultivate a sense of confidence.  And, we need confidence to create change.

But discussions allow us to bring more people onto our team to work together. This year, let’s focus on how we can have healthier DISCUSSIONS. Here’s how to get started:

  • Make a solution based on a teamwork approach, not an individual approach.  Ask questions.  Do not assume other people think like you.  There are always at least two sides of the story.
  • Never attack or tell someone he/she is wrong; do not judge and do not hold grudges.
  • Accept there will be compromises.
  • Show appreciation of others’ perspectives.  This is key.
  • Know that solutions are a work in progress and will need to be revisited over time.
  • Write down the different needs expressed and come up with possible strategies. Realize that there may be different solutions to solve the same problem.
  • If presenting to a stakeholder with more power, like a school board or local politician, present your concern politely, “These are our needs, and here are some solutions we came up with. What can you do to help?”  Be confident and respectful in asking these stakeholder questions.  Do not demand, manipulate, or threaten.
  • When cultivating critical thinking, confidence, and empowerment within your children, don’t forget they need to respect authority.

Discussion is more effective than debating, and everyone involved will likely feel more compelled to respect each other. It unifies, not divides. This is the healthy way.  If you want your voices to effectively be heard, you will need the help from people with whom you may disagree.  You will end up valuing these different perspectives, which bring about a coherent solution.  We should always do our best to work together, not against each other.  This is how you create effective change.