“Community Health Worker” means a public health outreach professional with an in-depth understanding of the experience, language, culture, and socioeconomic needs of the community and who provides a range of services, including, but not limited to, outreach, engagement, education, coaching, informal counseling, social support, advocacy, care coordination, research related to social determinants of health and basic screenings and assessments of any risks associated with social determinants of health Public Act 19-117
Community Health Workers (CHWs) are known by many names, such as Outreach workers, Lay Health Workers/Advocates, Peer Educators or Advisors, Community Health Advocates or Community Health Representatives. With the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act health reform, the role of Community Health Workers is seen as a fundamental link between their community and the public health and health care systems in order to reduce health care costs, eliminate barriers to care, improving cultural competency and bridging cultural medication, and addressing health disparities. They provide informal counseling and support, as well as advocate for and assure the individual needs of their community, while building their community’s capacity. Community Health Workers promote healthy living through teaching disease prevention and by connecting their community to formal health and human service systems, and ensuring that people get the services they need.
Community health workers work within hospitals, outpatient care centers, community health centers, health provider offices, in medical research, social service organizations, governmental agencies, non-profit agencies, housing projects, homeless projects, and public health departments. They spend most of their time in the community rather than in an office.
Salary ranges from $40,000 to $55,000 or more depending upon education and experience.
The BLS reports overall employment of health education specialists and community health workers is projected to grow 17 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.
About 16,100 openings for health education specialists and community health workers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
In Connecticut, Community Health Worker Certification was enacted and signed into law in early 2020. The certification allows an individual to receive the 90-hour CHW Core Competencies Training consisting of four parts and 23 individual modules composed of various topics that introduce them to public health, research, and evaluation, to name a few.
There are two paths to certification in Connecticut.
Pathway 1- New CHWs – Be trained and educated as a community health worker by an organization approved by the Community Health Worker Advisory Body. The individual is at least sixteen years of age; submit a professional reference from an employer with direct knowledge of the applicant’s experience as a community health worker, submit a reference from a member of the community with direct knowledge of the person’s experience as a community health worker, and have a minimum of one thousand (1,000) hours of experience working as a community health worker during the three years before the date of such application and perform fifty (50) hours of internship.
Pathway 2-Experienced CHWs – Has a minimum of two thousand (2,000) hours of paid or unpaid experience as a community health worker; submit a professional reference from an employer with direct knowledge of the applicant’s experience as a community health worker, submit a reference from a member of the community with direct knowledge of the applicant’s experience as a community health worker.
Certification Renewal: Each certified community health worker (CHW) applying for renewal shall complete a minimum of thirty hours of continuing education, including two hours focused on cultural competency, systemic racism, or systemic oppression and two hours focused on social determinants of health. At the time of renewal, the CHW will attest to their compliance with this requirement.
Currently, in Connecticut, three approved training vendors can train Community Health Workers on the 90-hour Core Competencies. The Community Health Worker Advisory Body approves these training vendors.
CHW Certification is voluntary in Connecticut; however, employers may require the individual to be certified as a contingency of employment.
Health Education Center, Inc.
55 Main Street
Norwich, CT 06360
Southern Area Health Education Center (AHEC)
5 Research Drive
Shelton, CT 06484
National Organization for Human Services
147 SE 102nd Avenue
Portland, OR 97216