HCN News & Notes

DPH Launches Certification Program for Community Health Workers

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has launched a voluntary certification program for Community Health Workers (CHWs) to create standards for this emerging workforce and to promote the role of CHWs in providing services that address health inequities.

“Community health workers play an important role in helping the Commonwealth meet the goals of Massachusetts healthcare reform,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. “Certification of CHWs comes at a time when healthcare systems are focusing on reducing costs while improving care and are hiring CHWs in record numbers. Certification will prepare this workforce to support the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable residents.”

CHWs are hired for their unique understanding of the experience, language, and culture of the populations they serve. They provide health education, access to services, and advocacy for the needs of individuals and communities to ensure culturally competent care and more equitable outcomes. 

DPH estimates there are more than 3,000 community health workers in Massachusetts — a number expected to rise as healthcare systems and community-based providers increasingly recognize the ability of CHWs to improve health outcomes and reduce the burden of health inequities.

“Community health workers are on the front lines in providing vital, culturally competent healthcare services to our most underserved populations,” said Public Health Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel. “Our new certification program recognizes and promotes the value of community health workers as the competent and caring professionals they are.”

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