Massachusetts Health Care Workforce Center

The landmark health care reform legislation of 2006 recognized the importance of CHWs to the health care and public health systems. Section 110 of Chapter 58 of the Acts of 2006 (health reform) mandated DPH to convene an Advisory Council of 14 named organizations to conduct an investigation of the use and funding of CHWs in the Commonwealth and to develop financing and training recommendations to support and promote a sustainable CHW workforce. The Advisory Council convened for the first time in August 2007 and completed its work a year later, in August 2008. The legislative report is forthcoming.

Below are links to the text of Section 110 and a brief history of how CHWs became part of health reform; description of the members and work of the Advisory Council; and a summary of the findings and recommendations from the forthcoming legislative report.

The Advisory Council included over 40 people representing over 30 organizations and agencies. The document below lists all Advisory Council members and their organizations. Council members conducted the investigation through four workgroups, listed below. (A full description of the work of the workgroups is included in the final report.)

  • Finance - The finance workgroup explored a diversity of financing mechanisms in order to develop recommendations for sustainable funding for the CHW workforce.
  • Research - The research workgroup employed a variety of research methods, including literature reviews, key informant interviews, and focus groups, to determine CHWs' impact on: 1) increasing access to health care; 2) eliminating health disparities; and 3) cost-effectiveness.
  • Survey - The survey workgroup developed and administered a survey of CHW employers to gather data on the use and funding of CHWs in Massachusetts.
  • Workforce Training - The workforce training workgroup developed recommendations for a standard CHW training curriculum and statewide certificate program.

The DPH CHW report to the Legislature includes a description of the workforce in MA based on the findings from the 2008 employer survey, CHW regional focus groups, and data from the 2005 survey of CHWs and CHW supervisors and subsequent report. It also presents findings from the literature and key informant interviews illustrating the impact CHWs have on health care access, quality, cost, and disparities.

Based on these findings from the investigation, the Advisory Council presents 34 recommendations for a sustainable CHW program in Massachusetts within the following four areas:

  • Conduct a Statewide Identity Campaign for the CHW Profession
  • Strengthen Workforce Development, including Training and Certification
  • Expand Financing Options
  • Establish an Infrastructure to Ensure Implementation of Recommendations

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