CHW Employment as Entry to Workforce

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A CHW taking a woman's blood pressure.We should not overlook the potential of CHW employment as a point of entry into the world of work.

  • People with limited work experience can be successful
  • A history of challenging life experiences can be an asset
  • Some programs choose “positive turnover” as job creation strategy


Finally, we should not overlook the potential of CHW employment as a point of entry into the world of work. The following points may be used as leverage in gaining other sources of support in state government, including from agencies responsible for cash assistance, for medical assistance—like Medicaid—and for workforce development.

CHWs with limited prior work experience can be successful. Indeed in a few instances, individuals whose first job was as a CHW have gone on to careers in medicine and other fields. CHW employment offers individuals a chance to get used to work responsibilities in a comfortable environment: their own community.

Unlike in most fields, for CHW positions, a history of challenging life experiences is regarded as an asset rather than a liability. Indeed, personal life experience can be a source of expertise for the CHW. Who better than a single mother who has raised children on Medicaid to advise another mother about enrolling her children and using Medicaid benefits effectively? Some programs use CHW positions as entry-level jobs for welfare recipients or people who have been through the criminal justice system, and who are good CHW candidates. This job creation strategy operates through the notion of “positive turnover,” in which CHWs gain the work experience necessary to go on to other positions and their jobs are refilled by new welfare recipients or ex-offenders. One school-based CHW program in California encourages its CHWs to pursue other careers so it can open their positions as entry-level jobs.