Community Health Workers

Georgia Community Health Worker Initiative (CHWI)

 

What is a Community Health Worker?

A Community Health Worker (CHW) is a frontline health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has a demonstrated working knowledge of the community and individuals served. They are also known as Navigators, Promotores, Outreach Workers, Community Health Aids, Health Promoters, and many other names, function in a variety of roles, and are typically from the community they serve. CHWs have an essential role on the health care team given their unique position to help address high priority public health issues and health care needs of the community.

The role of a CHW is unique because of their ability to develop trusting relationships with populations that have greater needs and face greater barriers to entry into the healthcare system, and because they serve as an essential liaison between the community and the medical and public health systems. CHWs function as professional members of the health care team and assume the range of roles and duties of which they are capable of undertaking. In many states and under federal healthcare policy, CHWs are recognized as “primary care professionals.” 

How We Got Started

In 2016, the Georgia Department of Public Health along with Kaiser Permanente, United Way of Atlanta, Grady Health System, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta Regional Coalition (ARC), and Atlanta Regional Collaborative for Health Improvement (ARCHI) co-sponsored a CHW forum that was attended by approximately 130 stakeholders. The Forum included presentations on CHW models used in other states, a discussion of proposed definitions for the term CHW in Georgia, information about the existing wide range of CHW programs, approaches, and policies in Georgia, and baseline training needs for CHWs.

Per the recommendation and support of the Forum attendees to continue the conversation, the Steering Committee, which consists of the of the organizations mentioned in the previous paragraph, committed to facilitate a coordinated effort to develop a model that would promote and sustain the integration of CHWs into health and human service organizations.

To date, there have been three (3) Community Health Worker Stakeholder Forums (2016, 2017, 2019), each with a focus of enhancing and supporting the CHW workforce in the state. For more information about each forum, please refer to the Resources Section at the end of this page.

CHW Advisory Board 

In May 2017, individuals were selected from across the state to serve on the Georgia Community Health Worker Advisory Board. The purpose of the Advisory Board is to help align our efforts statewide to define, train, and certify CHWs, and to provide recognition to this growing group of professionals.  

Individuals were selected based on nominations received by the Community Health Worker Steering Team and their experience or interest working with CHWs. The board members represent the following areas: health systems, health plans, academia, community-based organizations, advocacy groups, rural health, government, physicians, nursing, public health, social work, legal, and most importantly, community health workers.

The Advisory Board was responsible for finalizing the state definition for CHWs as well as developing a draft of what is known as the Georgia Community Health Worker Consensus Report (2017).

Georgia CHW Advocacy Coalition

The GA CHW Advocacy Coalition was established in April 2018, with the purpose of supporting the work of the Advisory Board. This is done by informing and promoting the role of the CHW in the community (visibility), in addition to advocating for CHWs to be recognized as certified health professionals in the state. The Coalition is currently made up of approximately 70 members and is led by Georgia Watch. For more information about the work of the Coalition or if you are interested in joining the effort, please visit: https://georgiawatch.org/community-health-workers-and-access-to-care/.

Upcoming CHW Training Program Pilot

In the Spring of 2020, DPH will pilot a CHW training program. The training will include core CHW competencies and community-based practice that meets the standards of the C3 Project https://www.c3project.org.  The course will offer a combination of classroom, online and community settings. DPH will be soliciting applications for this training and will post additional updates as they become available.  

For more information about the Community Health Worker Initiative, please contact 404-463-5107

Resources

National Association of Community Health Workers: https://nachw.org/

Page last updated 11/26/2019