Online Program

How CHW Leadership Strengthens Certification: A View from Two States

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 9:30 a.m. - 9:50 a.m.

Geoffrey Wilkinson, MSW, School of Social Work, Boston University, Boston, MA
Gail Hirsch, MEd, Division of Prevention & Wellness, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Boston, MA
Brendaly Rodriguez, MA, CTSI- Community Engagement and Cultural Diversity, University of Miami, Miami, FL
Jacquelyn Toledo, MS, Massachusetts Association of Community Health Workers, Center for Health Impact, Worcester, MA
Marion Banzhaf, Division of Community Health Promotion - Bureau of Chronic Disease Prevention, Florida Department of Health, Tallahassee, FL
A growing number of states are developing programs of certification for community health workers (CHWs), as evidence mounts from clinical and policy research that CHWs help improve quality outcomes and control costs as members of interdisciplinary care teams.  Meanwhile, certification has focused concerns of CHW leaders and other stakeholders on issues including potential loss of CHW identity and autonomy, under-appreciation of voluntary CHWs, over-medicalization of CHW functions, and respective roles for CHWs and licensed clinicians who provide home-based services. 

This presentation will describe strategies for designing certification processes to enhance the potential benefits of credentialing, considering workforce, provider, payer, training, and other stakeholder interests. It will draw on the varied experiences of Massachusetts and Florida to describe how CHWs can and should be involved in leading and participating in certification program development, design, and implementation.   Finally, it will define multiple, specific opportunities to address CHW workforce needs, making the case that empowered CHW participation is not only possible, but also essential to avoiding unintended negative consequences of certification.

This abstract was drafted by a long-time CHW ally who served as director of an APHA state affiliate and as a state health department senior manager.  It was edited by Massachusetts and Florida CHW leaders and health department officials.  The presenters will be selected depending on how much time is allocated for the presentation and will include at least one CHW per state.  The authors are flexible to combine slots within a session, if possible, to allow maximum opportunity for participant discussion.

Learning Areas:

Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe varied experiences with Community Health Worker leadership and participation in developing certification programs in two states. Identify strategies for designing Community Health Worker certification to enhance potential benefits and avoid unintended negative consequences of credentialing.

Keyword(s): Community Health Workers and Promoters, Health Systems Transformation

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I served as founding chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Certification of Community Health Workers and have been involved in CHW workforce promotion since 2002 as director of the Massachusetts APHA affiliate and as a senior manager of the Mass. Department of Public Health. My designation as presenter is only for the purpose of abstract submission. Actual presenter(s) will be or include CHW authors listed on the abstract, depending on time allotted for presentation.
Any relevant financial relationships? Yes

Name of Organization Clinical/Research Area Type of relationship
Mass. Dept. of Public Health policy maker Employment (includes retainer)
Central Mass. AHEC strategic planning for Mass. Assoc. of CHWs Consultant

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.