Community Health Workers are frontline public health workers who have a trusted relationship with the community and are able to facilitate access to a variety of services and resources for community members. Building CHWs into the continuum of care has been proven to both improve health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs.
For a picture of how CHWs can fit into a continuum of care, take a look at this report from the NAU Center for Health Equity Research in collaboration with the UA Prevention Research Center (AzPRC) which provides insight into innovative strategies for integrating, sustaining and scaling of the CHW workforce within Medicaid (AHCCCS).
Building CHWs into the healthcare continuum requires that a certification process be in place. The public health community tried for many years to get such a process in place, finally meeting with success 3 years ago with the passage of HB 2324, which charged the ADHS with implementing a program for the voluntary certification of Community Health Workers. After 3 years of anticipation (and advocacy trying to get the ADHS to write the rules) the agency finally released draft rules for the voluntary certification of community health workers last week.
HB 2324 was very prescriptive so the rulemaking by ADHS is pretty straightforward and there isn’t that much discretion or decision-making involved in the Rule. The draft rule package (open for public comment through June 6 includes:
The scope of practice and the core competencies of certified community health workers;
Qualifications for certified community health workers;
Requirements for community health worker’s education and training programs;
Standards and requirements for continuing education courses;
Education, training, experience and other qualifications for trainers;
Criteria for granting, denying, suspending, and revoking a certificate; and
Certification application fees.