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Community Health Workers (CHWs)

Who is a Community Health Worker?

A Community Health Worker (CHW) is a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has an unusually close understanding of the community served. This trusting relationship enables the CHW to serve as a liaison/link/intermediary between health/social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery..

A CHW also builds individual and community capacity by increasing health knowledge and self-sufficiency through a range of activities such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support and advocacy.

- American Public Health Association

Code of Ethics - PDF            

Scope of Practice - A scope of practice (SoP) defines the parameters within which a professional practices. A SoP describes the who, what, where, and when of a profession, which provides assurances for both those practicing within the profession and for those they serve. Learn more about the SoP of CHW - Link.


Why CHWs?

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics standard occupational classification of CHW states that CHWs:

Assist individuals and communities to adopt healthy behaviors. Conduct outreach for medical personnel or health organizations to implement programs in the community that promote, maintain, and improve individual and community health. May provide information on available resources, provide social support and informal counseling, advocate for individuals and community health needs, and provide services such as first aid and blood pressure screening. May collect data to help identify community health needs. Excludes "Health Educators" (21-1091)

Leveraging CHWs is one of many evidence-based practices known to improve population health. Indeed, the National Prevention Strategy, Institute of Medicine, U.S. Health and Human Services and others recommend integrating CHWs into the health care delivery system.

Evidence

Evidence to support the role of CHWs continues to grow. Our annotated bibliographies (below) help to understand the nature and impact of their work.

The Indiana State Department of Health's Role in Supporting CHWs

ISDH is deeply committed to supporting the role of CHWs as a means of advancing care, reducing costs, and improving community health by advancing system level integration.Success in developing a sustainable system with CHWs is a direct result of our partners from all sectors of the community including CHWs and public and private entities.

Resources and Trainings

Are you a CHW interested in getting training to become a CHWs?

Community Health Worker Workgroup