- Department of Public Health
- Board of Certification of Community Health Workers
- Bureau of Health Professions Licensure
Media Contact for Department of Public Health Launches Certification Program for Community Health Workers
Ann Scales, Media Relations Director
BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) today launched a voluntary certification program for Community Health Workers (CHWs) to create standards for this emerging workforce and to promote the role of CHWs in providing services that address health inequities.
“Community health workers play an important role in helping the Commonwealth meet the goals of Massachusetts health care reform,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. “Certification of CHWs comes at a time when health care systems are focusing on reducing costs while improving care and are hiring CHWs in record numbers. Certification will prepare this workforce to support the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable residents.”
CHWs are hired for their unique understanding of the experience, language, and culture of the populations they serve. They provide health education, access to services, and advocacy for the needs of individuals and communities to ensure culturally competent care and more equitable outcomes.
DPH estimates there are more than 3,000 community health workers in Massachusetts. That number is expected to rise as health care systems and community-based providers increasingly recognize the ability of CHWs to improve health outcomes and reduce the burden of health inequities. For example, this effort is particularly timely given MassHealth has estimated that up to 175 Community Health Workers will be hired through current health care transformation efforts.
“Community Health Workers are on the front lines in providing vital, culturally competent health care services to our most underserved populations,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. “Our new certification program recognizes and promotes the value of community health workers as the competent and caring professionals they are.”
The Board of Certification of Community Health Workers in the DPH Bureau of Health Professions Licensure will certify individual CHWs and will approve CHW training programs for certification. Qualifications for CHW certification include:
- Being 18 years of age or older
- Satisfying work and training requirements via one of two pathways: a work experience pathway requiring 4,000 hours of work experience OR a training-plus-experience pathway requiring 2,000 hours of work experience plus completion of an approved training program.
- Understanding each of 10 CHW core competencies
Established by legislative statute, the Board of Certification of Community Health Workers developed the regulations governing CHW certification with significant input from CHWs, CHW employers, CHW training programs, and others.
Certification for CHWs who meet the work experience pathway requirements launches today. Later this year, the Board will approve the training programs to certify those workers with less work experience. An online webinar will be available soon to explain the certification process.
More information on the CHW certification program can be found on the Board of Certification of Community Health Workers website. More information about the CHW workforce can be found on the DPH Office of Community Health Workers website and on the Massachusetts Association of Community Health Workers website.