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October 6, 2016

Educating and Informing for Action:  As Resistance to Fairer CHW Policy Rises, So Do CHWs, MACHW Members, and CHW Supporters!

As you know, last month concluded the last opportunity for CHW advocates throughout the country to submit comments regarding the federal definition of a CHW for the next several years.  Many of us, including CHWs, MACHW members, and CHW supporters, took time to write comments to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) requesting revisions be made to the currently proposed changes in the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) #21- 1094: Community Health Workers (CHWs).  We want to thank you all personally for your offer to help in the American Public Health Association (APHA) CHW Section’s campaign to amend the U.S. DOL definition with a revision that more holistically describes the work that CHWs do.  In a short turn-around time, the results were outstanding!  In fact, if everyone were to commit themselves with the same level of enthusiasm as you have, we would certainly have the goal of changing the federal definition in no time at all.    

This advocacy, to get the DOL to establish and accurately define the CHW SOC dates back to 2006-2009, as the APHA CHW Section worked hard to get the SOC code created and again amended in 2014.  However, the federal definition of a CHW currently being used for the SOC code excludes some CHWs who work outside of health care agencies.  This results in an undercount of the workforce, which has implications for funding and recognition of the valuable work CHWs do – not to mention, the exclusion of a large portion of the field that works in related areas including violence prevention, environmental justice, food security, employment, education, housing, and general community-based services.  Read MACHW’s own letter HERE for your review.  

The U.S. DOL BLS will be releasing a third notice announcing the final 2018 SOC structure and occupation codes and titles by Spring 2017, with publication of the final 2018 SOC codes, titles, and definitions for implementation in reference year 2018. The opportunity to request new SOCs only occurs once per decade and in response to DOL preparations for the coming census year.  The next opportunity to amend the federal CHW definition will be in 2024.

Stay tuned as we learn more about the progress and disseminate results from the DOL’s responses as promptly as possible. We remain committed to satisfying the workforce development needs of every CHW.  Thank you again for your willingness to assist.

Gratefully yours,

MACHW staff and Advisory Board Members