The 2006 Massachusetts health reform law (Chapter 58), Section 110, requested that DPH convene a statewide CHW advisory council to investigate the workforce and report its finding and recommendations to the legislature. Thirty-four recommendations were made in 4 key categories: strengthen CHW professional identity; strengthen CHW workforce development, including training and certification; expand financing mechanisms; and establish a state infrastructure. Recommendation #2.6 called for the establishment of a certification process for CHWs, based on diverse cross-sector support.

The Massachusetts Association of Community Health Workers (MACHW) held forums for CHWs around the state to hear their views on certification. CHWs generally supported certification, provided that it be voluntary and that CHWs be included on the certification board. Together with experts at DPH, MACHW wrote the legislation to establish the Board of Certification of CHWs, and MACHW, joined by key partner organizations, led a statewide campaign to get the legislation passed.

The following year, Chapter 322, Acts of 2010, “An Act Establishing a Board of Certification of Community Health Workers,” was signed into law, and took effect in 2012. The law calls for voluntary certification, rather than mandatory licensure. The intent of the law is to create a competency-based process that recognizes and strengthens the work of CHWs while simultaneously avoiding the creation of barriers for effective CHWs to get certified.

Since 2012, the Massachusetts Board of Certification of CHWs, located at the DPH Division of Health Professions Licensure, has been making policy decisions to inform the regulations on certification of individual CHWs and approval of CHW training programs. The Board is appointed by the governor and has eleven seats (including the Chair), four of which are CHWs. The chair is the Commissioner of Public Health or his or her designee.

In compliance with the Massachusetts Open Meeting Law, members of the public also have the opportunity to attend monthly Board meetings.

  1. Massachusetts Board of Certification of CHWs has meeting minutes, dates, times and locations
  2. Initial Session Law that ordered the creation of the Massachusetts Board of Certification of CHWs
  3. December 2009 Massachusetts CHW Report to the Legislature pdf format of legislature-report.pdf
doc format of                             legislature-report.doc                file size 1MB
  4. “Community Health Worker Credentialing: State Approaches,” Harvard School of Public Health

This information is provided by the Office of Community Health Workers within the Department of Public Health.