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MASSACHUSETTS ASSOCIATION OF COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKERS

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October 6, 2016

Summing Up Certification:  Board Members and Workforce Leaders Remove Barriers to Certification for CHWs with Records

After four years, let’s look back at the road we’ve traveled:  The Board of Certification of CHWs is back at work, approving draft regulations in January and noting two newly appointed seats filled this year.  Achieving quorum has improved, and regular meetings have increased, allowing for rich discussions to happen regarding several important aspects of Certification: the ‘Suitability for Certification’ policy, the individual application, and the training program application.  

One of the components of Certification which was the source of extensive research and discussion was the issue of whether CHWs, like other health professions which are credentialed in Massachusetts, should undergo a criminal background check or CORI. MACHW took an active role in advocating that a CORI/criminal background history is observed to be a positive factor for CHWs’ credibility and ease in relating to clients (people of color, shared-experiences with at-risk youth, gang members, etc.) when entering communities.  Most of the Board members are in favor of the draft policy which includes the language ‘Suitability for Certification’ that will be used to satisfy the term “good moral character” in the law.  The Board also considers recommendations for fairer practices regarding the consideration of CORI results.  The year-long fact-finding process regarding CORI is increasingly powering the Board and its members with expert-informed research and CHW input.   Both the National Employment Law Project (NELP) and the Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) provided testimony to the Board.  In a state in which received an opaque score by NELP’s Model State Law (Rodriguez & Avery, 2016), has since been acknowledged by Pauline Quirion of GBLS as “having done amazingly well” in creating a Certification design responsive to CHWs with CORI backgrounds who fear facing the racial injustices bestowed upon by state Certification – thus, opting out of applying.  That’s progress.

The best part?  We’re not done yet.

The discussions held in September included moving the term “good moral character” as a definition in the regulations from a more central position in the Certification language to the glossary section.  Although the term is addressed in the statute, the term was noted to be irrelevant in the operational design of Certification.  Furthermore, the Board is committed to understanding the landscape and incorporating ongoing data of the impact of the use of CORI checks upon the Certification process.  For example, is this requirement having any unintended consequences on applicants and potential applicants.  The proposed data collection will include: the number of certified applicants, applications requiring CORI requests, rejections based on records, applicants who provide evidence, and number of applicants who repeal denials.  Collecting applicant demographic data, including geographic information, could also help identify who is excluded from state Certification.   

Lastly, the CHW Education and Training Program Applications were brought up.  As part of the application package, the Board will be asking CHW training programs who will be applying to be approved CHW training programs for a notice of intent to apply, a mission statement, the organization’s teaching methodology and its training philosophy.  The package will include about five pages explaining the whole process, as based on the regulations.  The training program’s practicum will be assessed and fee proposals will be taken into consideration.

The next Board of Certification of CHWs meeting is going to take place on, Tuesday, October 11, from 9:30am - 1:00pm at the Division of Health Professions Licensure, 239 Causeway St, Boston (near North Station T stop) in Conference Rooms 417 A&B. The agenda will be posted one week prior to the meeting on the Board’s website.

The Board meetings are open to the public. MACHW members are welcome to attend. Thanks and we look forward to hearing from you then!