Lessons for Advancing and Sustaining State Community Health Worker Partnerships

Authors: Elinor Higgins, Elaine Chhean, Sandra Wilkniss, Hemi Tewarson
Year: 2021
State: NatDoc: National Document
Website link: https://nachw.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/NASHP-Dec-2021-community-healthworker-brief.pdf
Publicly Available: Yes
Certification: Administration - certification boards state health departments etc., CHW input in process, Lessons learned from other states
Policy: Building partnerships, General other, Lessons learned from other states
Sustainable Financing: Engaging state partners in general, General other, How to engage and work with Medicaid, Including community-based CHWs, Reimbursement TA for FQHCs Medicaid etc., Surveys and assessment tools to define and develop workforce
Workforce Development: CHW training programs (not cert.), General other (including mention of “employment practices”), Recruiting and convening CHWs stakeholders, Training- Content modes delivery, Training- Continuing education

As states work towards a modernized public health system, while also grappling with significant workforce challenges in health care, many are identifying workforce strategies to build capacity, advance health equity, and improve health. Community health workers (CHWs) are one critical segment of the community-based workforce and are increasingly central to state workforce and equity planning. NASHP recently updated a 50-state scan that identifies state approaches to supporting the CHW workforce and catalogues CHW Medicaid financing strategies. This updated resource was informed by a survey that was completed by state Medicaid officials, public health officials, and CHW association representatives as well as through publicly available information. Building off the survey results and targeted interviews, NASHP facilitated a roundtable discussion at the 2021 NASHP Annual Conference with 20 states and CHW colleagues. During the roundtable, state leaders shared their strategies to finance and partner with CHWs in order to provide higher quality and more culturally competent care.This brief presents lessons learned for states to build, sustain, or expand partnerships with CHWs. Key considerations and examples that are discussed in more detail include:

  • Engaging CHWs and other community-based stakeholders in policymaking to inform CHW programs and to identify needs and strengths of communities;
  • Leveraging experience from the COVID-19 response and transitioning work with CHWs to advance other policies and financing approaches; and
  • Investing in CHWs to ensure sustainability, including through reimbursement of services, building career paths, and strengthening CHW networks.

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