Engaging the Community Health Worker (CHW) Workforce and Other Stakeholders

Do the CHW workforce and other stakeholders want statewide CHW certification?

It is critical to know whether or not the CHW workforce and other stakeholders in the state support statewide CHW certification. Gathering and incorporating input from community- and healthcare-based CHWs on certification requirements and processes are also essential. Creating opportunities for CHW workforce leadership is the best way to ensure that CHW perspectives guide decision making.

Potential actions for stakeholders
  • Reviewing CHW certification’s attractive features and concerns that have been reported by stakeholders in case study states
  • Formally acknowledging the leadership role of the CHW workforce in determining CHW workforce development. This could include requiring a majority of CHW members in all decision-making groups, as suggested by the American Public Health AssociationExternal.

For example, CHW leadership has been addressed in state legislation, workgroup planning documents, and health department communications.

  • Convening state, regional, and local CHW organizations and networks to discuss existing perceptions about certification among the CHWs in the state. The National Academy for State Health Policy offers a list of CHW organizations and workgroups in each stateExternal. Undertaking identification and engagement effortsExternal could also help to reach all groups of CHWs in the state, which may organize under different titles.
  • Holding annual CHW summits or conferences—including community- and healthcare-based CHWs, as well as CHWs located in rural areas and non-English speaking CHWs—to discuss preferences for certification processes and requirements.
  • Conducting statewide surveys of the CHW workforce to reveal specific preferences regarding workforce development, including certification.
  • Making presentations that address existing stakeholder perceptions about CHW certification and provide details on the approach that is being pursued in the state.
  • When appropriate, establishing a formal advisory group, task force, or board with CHW leadership, to guide all CHW workforce development decisions, including the final decision of whether to pursue statewide CHW certification.

Case examples

  • A community health worker taking a patient's blood pressure.

    Gathering and incorporating input from community- and healthcare-based CHWs on certification requirements and processes is essential.

    The Kentucky Department of Public Health worked with the Montgomery County Health Department and the Appalachian Kentucky Healthcare Access Network to host the first annual conference for CHWs in the state in 2017. A CHW survey was completed at this conference, and findings are being used to guide development of statewide training and certification.

  • In Arizona, stakeholders hold an annual CHW and promotor/promotora conference to convene CHWs from across the state to make decisions about workforce development. A statewide survey conducted in 2015 by the Arizona Community Health Workers Association (AzCHOW) revealed that the CHW workforce has a strong interest in certification. In 2017, AzCHOW led the development of legislation to establish statewide CHW certification in Arizona.
  • In Washington, local promotor/promotora networks have formed around the state, but there is no statewide CHW organization. In 2015, the Healthier Washington CHW Task Force included approximately 55 people, including CHWs and promotores/promotoras, the Washington State Healthcare Authority, insurance companies, managed care organizations, state officials, academic institutions, and employers.This group chose to focus on developing CHW scope of practice and training, but not statewide CHW certification. The Washington State Health Department currently offers free online CHW trainingExternal, with more than 1,500 individuals trained so far.
  • Wisconsin stakeholders—including the state CHW association—are not pursuing statewide CHW certification at this time; instead, they are focusing on strategies for scaling up CHW training and financing—for example, by including CHWs in the Pathways Community HUB modelExternal.