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Certification for Community Health Workers

Learn about Community Health Worker (CHW) Certification in Massachusetts.

Learn more about CHW Certification

The Board of Certification of Community Health Workers (CHWs) regulates CHW Certification and the approval of CHW Training Programs.

View CHW Certification regulations and CHW Board Meeting information and meeting minutes at About the Board of Certification of Community Health Workers.

Background on CHW Certification in Massachusetts

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 findings and recommendations to the legislature. Recommendations were in 4 key categories:

  • Strengthen CHW professional identity
  • Strengthen CHW workforce development
    • Including the components of training and professional certification
  • Expand financing mechanisms for CHWs
    • Establish a state infrastructure for CHW financing
  • The recommendation for the establishment of a certification process for CHWs garnered diverse cross-sector support

In response to this recommendation, the Massachusetts Association of Community Health Workers (MACHW) held statewide forums to hear CHW’s views on certification. In general, CHWs were in support of certification, provided that it is voluntary and that CHWs have seats on the certification board. In partnership with experts at DPH, MACHW wrote the legislation to establish the Board of Certification of CHW. MACHW and other 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. The Board also has the authority to approve CHW training programs.

Since 2012, the Massachusetts Board of Certification of CHWs, located under the DPH Bureau of Health Professions Licensure, has met to develop regulations for implementing the provisions of the law. The Board is appointed by the governor and has eleven seats (including the Chair), four of which are held 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.

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