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Community Health Worker Initiative

All North Carolinians should have the opportunity for health. That opportunity begins where people live, learn, work and play; it begins with our families, neighborhoods and communities.

Improving opportunities for health and knitting together the healthcare sector and communities will require a multi-disciplinary workforce including doctors, nurses, social workers, care coordinators, community-based organization leaders and Community Health Workers. CHWs have been long recognized for their ability to address the needs of the community beyond traditional healthcare to support health and well-being.

Since 2015, stakeholders have been engaged in the North Carolina Community Health Worker Initiative. This work started by identifying and describing how existing programs across the state utilize CHWs.

Through a series of meetings, development of workgroups, a summit and several community listening sessions, a set of recommendations has been developed to support a coordinated infrastructure for CHWs. It proposes that CHW roles and competencies should be codified and that standardized training should be developed. There is also a proposed certification process for CHWs to enhance potential employment opportunities.

In creating a framework for CHWs, it became clear there is not a national standard for what they do. Additionally, the North Carolina Community Health Worker Initiative was privileged to be among five states chosen to receive technical assistance from Community Health Worker experts through the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO). Through this assistance, DHHS learned more about certification processes and funding models developed by other states.

DHHS released the report “Community Health Workers in North Carolina: Creating an Infrastructure for Sustainability” in May 2018. This report is the basis of the Department’s ongoing work to create a CHW workforce that can support health, safety and well-being for all North Carolinians.

DHHS is currently working with partners on developing a standardized CHW curriculum and certification process to be piloted in Spring 2019.