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The Michigan Community Health Worker Alliance endorses the American Public Health Association’s definition of a “Community Health Worker”:
“A Community Health Worker (CHW) is a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has an unusually close understanding of the community served. This trusting relationship enables the CHW to serve as a liaison/link/intermediary between health/social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery.
A CHW also builds individual and community capacity by increasing health knowledge and self-sufficiency through a range of activities such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support and advocacy.”
The definition was developed by members of APHA’s Community Health Worker Section and formally adopted by the organization in 2009.
In Michigan, CHWs are known by many titles, which include but are not limited to:
The CHW serves as a liaison/link/intermediary between health/social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the overall health and wellness of the communities served.
The National Community Health Worker Core Consensus (C3) Project further defines common roles of a CHW:
Research supports that CHWs address social determinants of health: they increase health knowledge and self-sufficiency, provide social support, address the whole person and family, and link people with health insurance, health care, behavioral health, and social services. CHWs improve self-efficacy, chronic disease management, Medicaid work requirements and access to care and benefits. CHW services also lead to cost-efficiency and benefit. Improved health outcomes are shown in maternal and child health, aging, asthma, diabetes, obesity, and depression.
MiCHWA provides the CHW training and curriculum that is used to certify the CHW workforce in Michigan. MiCHWA also provides access to a CHW registry, continuing education opportunities, resources, and other workforce development opportunities.