machw.org

MASSACHUSETTS ASSOCIATION OF COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKERS

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Who are CHWs?

A community health worker is a public health professional who promotes full and equal access to necessary health and social services by applying his or her unique understanding of the experiences, language and culture of the communities he or she serves.  

MASSACHUSETTS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH'S DEFINITION OF A COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKER
Community Health Workers (CHWs) are public health workers who apply their unique understanding of the experience, language and/or culture of the populations they serve in order to carry out one or more of the following roles:

  • Providing culturally appropriate health education, information and outreach in community-based settings, such as homes, schools, clinics, shelters, local businesses, and community centers;
  • Bridging/culturally mediating between individuals, communities and health and human services, including actively building individual and community capacity;
  • Assuring that people access the services they need;
  • Providing direct services, such as informal counseling, social support, care coordination and health screenings; and
  • Advocating for individual and community needs.

 CHWs are distinguished from other health professionals because they:

  • Are hired primarily for their understanding of the populations and communities they serve;
  • Conduct outreach a significant portion of the time in one or more of the categories above; and
  • Have experience in providing services in community settings.