As the Community Health Worker (CHW) workforce grows and becomes more recognized as integral to bridging the health disparities gap experienced by underserved populations, it is of utmost importance to provide competent and complete training for the workers. Adequate training and state recognition are the most important step in addressing local health disparities and recognizing what this workforce can do for the health of the community.
According to a national study of CHW training and credentialing conducted by Kash et al. (2007), training and certification programs lead to:
- Career advancement for CHWs
- Enhanced earning capacity
- Better job retention
- Better recognition—including Medicaid reimbursable services
- Improved self-esteem
- Better outcomes for CHW programs
Providing CHWs with training is a natural step in the process of recognizing and utilizing Community Health Workers. By using a standardized curriculum and endorsing the credentialing of CHWs, states can maximize their use and cost-effectiveness by creating quality care standards, improving retention, and creating steady financial streams through reimbursement. Several states have preceded Connecticut by creating CHW training legislation, and several more are in the process of doing so. State support is essential to developing this workforce and taking strides towards improving health disparities in this state.
Reference: Kash, BA, May ML, Tai-Seale, A. (2007) Community health worker training and certification programs in the United States: Findings from a national survey. Health Policy, 80, 32-42.