Community Health Workers: Uniquely positioned to make communities healthier

Community Health WorkersNo one knows a community better than the people who live there. Someone who has spent a lifetime in Tuba City, Seligman, or Yuma knows the people who live there, what makes the community unique, and what health care solutions are needed.

That’s the idea behind the Community Health Worker movement, which has roots in Arizona stretching more than 50 years. That includes Community Health Representatives in our state’s tribal communities dating back to the 1960s, and the Arizona promotora movement in Yuma in the 1980s.

Community Health Workers are frontline public health workers who are trusted members or have a deep understanding of the communities they serve. They use their understanding of the people and cultures across Arizona to improve health, address social issues that can result in better health outcomes, reduce costs of care, and make the local health system more responsive to the needs of each community.

Certification of Community Health Workers contributes to further professionalization and sustainability of the workforce and can help facilitate reimbursement of services they deliver.

ADHS has been working with groups around the state to explore ways to recognize, standardize, unify, and sustain this workforce. A bill signed by Governor Doug Ducey in 2018 authorized ADHS to prescribe the scope of practice and the core competencies of Community Health Workers  in Arizona, including establishing minimum education, training, and credentials. 

With the final rules taking effect today, Arizona’s Community Health Workers now can apply for voluntary certification. The final rules for certification reflect recommendations of the ADHS Director-appointed Community Health Worker Advisory Council, which consisted of nine members, including representatives from the Community Health Worker workforce.

Throughout the rulemaking process, ADHS worked with Community Health Workers and various stakeholders to fully understand the services provided and the availability and nature of current training programs. Approved training programs are based in the 10 core competencies and are designed to meet minimum training requirements for Community Health Worker voluntary certification. 

ADHS also worked with tribal programs to include language detailing reciprocity for voluntary certification to ensure that Community Health Representatives trained by Indian Health Services or certified by another state would be eligible for certification.

ADHS is pleased to utilize federal grant funding to reduce Community Health Worker certification fees to no more than $1. The reduction of fees will continue as long as grant funds are available. We are happy to support Community Health Workers in the certification process and encourage those who are interested to become certified. Applications are fully electronic and available as of today at azhealth.gov/CHW.

 

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