Online Program

Creating a state certification program for community health workers

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 8:30 a.m. - 8:50 a.m.

Geoffrey Wilkinson, MSW, Office of the Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Boston, MA
Gail Hirsch, MEd, Division of Prevention & Wellness, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Boston, MA
Lorenza Holt, MPH, Boston Association for Childbirth Education, Newton, MA
Theresa Mason, Ph.D., Mason Consulting, Jamaica Plain, MA
Implementation of the Affordable Care Act is rapidly expanding opportunities for use of Community Health Workers (CHWs) in multiple health care and public health settings. Public and private sector payers and provider systems, for instance, are exploring new roles for CHWs in innovative primary care models and community-based prevention and treatment of chronic disease. In Massachusetts, state health care reform prompted adoption of a law requiring the state public health department to create a certification program for CHWs. The new board of certification was established in July, 2012 and has involved CHWs in the process of developing regulations in a nationally unprecedented manner. In this session, a combination of CHW and state health department presenters will explain the rationale and utility for a state CHW certification program, describe the process Massachusetts is using to develop regulations, and present specific information about the emerging program. The session will describe ten core competencies that Massachusetts is using as the basis for certifying individual CHWs and for certifying CHW training programs. The core competencies are based upon the 1998 National Community Health Advisers study and other state models but include innovations that will hopefully be of value to the national CHW workforce development movement.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Chronic disease management and prevention
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Explain a rationale for state certification of CHWs based on the needs of the workforce, payers, and providers. Describe the composition and statutory mandate for the Massachusetts Board of Certification for Community Health Workers. Explain the process used in Massachusetts to engage CHWs directly in the development of regulations for certification. Compare and contrast the Massachusetts description of core CHW competencies with relevant national descriptions.

Keyword(s): Community Health Promoters, Health Care Reform

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I serve as chair of the Massachusetts Board of Certification of Community Health Workers and lead policy development for CHW affairs in the commissioner's office of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. I co-authored and helped lead advocacy for legislation for CHW workforce development in Massachusetts and have consulted to the Mass. Association for Community Health Workers. I also led the state's CHW Advisory Council and co-authored an AJPH article describing this work.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.