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CHW Certification in Massachusetts

 

FACT SHEET



Background

As you may know, the Massachusetts legislature passed a law in 2010 to establish a Board of Certification of CHWs at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.   This led to the establishment of the Board in 2012.   The Board, comprised of 11 individuals, including CHWs, is appointed by the governor and charged with the authority to oversee the Certification process for individual CHWs, including granting or denying Certification, and approval for CHW Training Programs.

For the past 4 years, the Board has been working hard to make CHW Certification a reality.  As a final step, before opening the application process, the Board must hold 3 public hearings where they will listen to and receive written comments on the feedback and concerns Massachusetts residents may have about CHW Certification.

We encourage you to read this FACT SHEET to learn more about the proposed Regulations and application process. We URGE you to attend the hearings and express, both verbally and in writing, your feedback about what is being proposed.


Boston - June 9, 2017 at 10:00 am
Department of Public Health, Public Health Council Room (2nd Floor,) 250 Washington Street, Boston

Westfield - June 19, 2017 at 9:00 am
Western MA Hospital Conference Center, Lower Level, 91 East Mountain Road, Westfield 

Worcester - June 19, 2017 at 2:00 pm
Worcester Recovery Center and Hospital, Executive Conference Room, 309 Belmont Street, Worcester



1.     What are the requirements for applying for CHW Certification? 

    Be at least 18 years-old
    Be able to demonstrate “good moral character”
    Fee of $35;
    Passport photo;

    Complete ALL sections of the MA CHW Certification APPLICATION which includes:

    • signed statement that applicant has read and understands the Standards of Conduct
    • complete the information required for the pathway you are applying under, (a) Work Experience; or (b) Training + Experience.
    • Three professional references
    • Signed document to authorize Board’s receipt of CORI results* (see question 10)

2.    What is the difference between the two pathways for certification: (a) Work Experience (grandmothered), and (b) Training + Work Experience?

(a)    Work Experience (grandmothering pathway)

Because Certification will begin in 2017, the Regulations sought to honor the broad experience of CHWs who have practiced in the field prior to 2017. As a result, and only for the next three years (until 2020), experienced CHWs can apply to be “grandmothered” as Certified CHWs. 

To apply though the Work Experience Pathway, you must demonstrate that, within the last 10 years, you have worked as a CHW for at least 4,000 hours (the equivalent of two years full time).  Work done as a volunteer (not paid) can be included in the 4,000 hours.

For hours to be valid, a supervisor or an individual familiar with your work must verify that during those hours, you worked within the CHW Scope of Practice.

 

Massachusetts CHW Scope of Practice

 

o    Providing culturally appropriate health education, information and outreach in community-based settings including but not limited to homes, schools, hospitals, clinics, shelters, local businesses and community centers;

 

o    Bridging or culturally mediating between individuals, families, communities and health and human services, including actively building individual and community capacity;

 

o    Assisting community members to access the health and human services they need;

 

o    Providing direct services, including but not limited to informal counseling on access to health and human services, social support, care coordination and health screenings;

 

o    Advocating for individual, family and community needs pertaining to access to health and human services; and

 

o    Additional roles as may be identified by the board that may emerge in the development of community health worker practice.

 

 

(b)    Training + Work Experience Pathway

CHWs applying for certification through this pathway must complete “the 80 hour CHW Core Competency Training” through a Board- Approved Training program. 

In addition to completing the 80 hours of training, you must demonstrate that, during the past 10 years, you worked as a CHW for at least 2,000 hours.  Work done as a volunteer (not paid) can be included in the 2,000 hours.

For hours to be valid, a supervisor or an individual familiar with your work must verify that during those hours, you worked within the CHW Scope of Practice. See above under (a).

 

3.    Who can be a professional reference?

As part of the application, you are required to submit three (3) professional references. Your references should be people who are familiar with your CHW work and able to rate you in the Core Competencies:

10    CHW Core Competencies

1.      Outreach Methods and Strategies
2.      Individual and Community Assessment
3.      Effective Communication
4.      Cultural Responsiveness and Mediation
5.      Education to Promote Healthy Behaviors
6.      Care Coordination & Systems Navigation
7.      Public Health Concepts and Approaches
8.      Advocacy and Community Capacity Building
9.      Documentation
10.    Professional Skills and Conduct

    References cannot be a spouse, partner, family member, nor a current or past client.
    Reference forms are included in the application packet and must be signed and dated by the individual making the reference
    If you have worked as a CHW outside of the US, you may obtain references from other countries. (However, at least one of the one must be a current or former supervisor in the U.S.)
    References must be submitted with the application in sealed envelopes

4.    Can I work as a CHW in Massachusetts if I am not Certified?

Yes, you can work as a CHW without certification. State Certification according to the regulations is voluntary; community health workers may practice and call themselves community health workers even if not state Certified.

5.    What are the privileges that come with Certification?

Only state Certified CHWs can call themselves Certified CHWs. That is, you may add C-CHW as part of your credentials. 

6.    What are the approved training programs in Massachusetts?

Training programs that wish to be approved by the Board will submit applications to the Board for approval.  Board approved Training Programs will be posted on the website for the Board of Certification.

7.    How long is the CHW Certification valid for?  How do I renew it?

Certification is valid for 2 years.  In order to renew Certification, the Certified CHW must complete 15 contact hours of qualified (approved by the Board) continuing education activities.

The Board has not yet approved the criteria for continuing education activities nor developed criteria for the organizations that could provide the contact hours.  Once approved, the list of continuing education providers will be maintained and published by the Board.

8.     What are the CHW Standards of Conduct? 

Any health professional in Massachusetts who obtains a license or certification through the Bureau of Health Professions Licensure, must agree to behave according to 28 Standards of Conduct.

The Standards of Conduct outline the boundaries of the CHW relationship with employers, clients, and community members.  When you sign the Application, you are agreeing to behave according to these Standards if you become a Certified CHW. Once you are granted Certification, failure to adhere to these Standards could result in the Board revoking your Certification. 

9.    What is “Good Moral Character” and how do I demonstrate it in the application?

The Regulations do not require CHWs to be CORIed to be granted Certification. However, the Bureau of Health Professions Licensure, the branch of the Department of Public Health under which the Board of Certification sits, uses CORI as one way to assess “good moral character” of individuals applying for licenses or certifications in Massachusetts.

Though the Board must follow the policies set forth by the Bureau of Health Professions Licensure, and make CORI checks a requirement for Certification, the Board also recognizes that
    involvement in the criminal justice system has become a fairly common experience in the United States with an institutional bias that disproportionately affects people of color;
    Involvement in the criminal justice system can have lifelong consequences for many creating barriers to employment and credentialing;
    CHWs are a very important workforce and a critical piece of their occupation is the ability to demonstrate shared experience and build trust with the communities they serve. In many cases, having a record and/or experience with the criminal justice system can allow for trust building

Therefore, the Board has created a “Suitability for Certification” policy that expands the criteria used by the Bureau of Health Professions Licensure to assess “Good Moral Character.”

10.     Can I become Certified if I have a positive CORI?

YES!

CORI is the last step in the application process. It will only be conducted after an applicant meets all the criteria for Certification, e.g., work experience, training, etc.

The Board will not see or deny Certification for arrests with no adverse outcome, juvenile offences or sealed items.  In assessing an applicant’s criminal history, the Board will only consider: 1) convictions (except juvenile cases);  and, 2) open cases.

Even if you have a conviction or an open case, the Board will review applications on a case-by-case basis, and assess the mitigating circumstances that led to the offence and your rehabilitation process since the offence. The Board might request that applicants with convictions or open records provide additional documentation.

For more information about the Suitability for Certification Policy and the Regulations, please visit
http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/hcq/dhpl/community-health-workers/hearings-and-draft-regs.html

CHW Certification in Massachusetts

 

FACT SHEET

 

Background

 

As you may know, the Massachusetts legislature passed a law in 2010 to establish a Board of Certification of CHWs at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.   This led to the establishment of the Board in 2012.   The Board, comprised of 11 individuals, including CHWs, is appointed by the governor and charged with the authority to oversee the Certification process for individual CHWs, including granting or denying Certification, and approval for CHW Training Programs.

 

For the past 4 years, the Board has been working hard to make CHW Certification a reality.  As a final step, before opening the application process, the Board must hold 3 public hearings where they will listen to and receive written comments on the feedback and concerns Massachusetts residents may have about CHW Certification.

 

We encourage you to read this FACT SHEET to learn more about the proposed Regulations and application process. We URGE you to attend the hearings and express, both verbally and in writing, your feedback about what is being proposed.

 

 

Boston - June 9, 2017 at 10:00 am

Department of Public Health, Public Health Council Room (2nd Floor,) 250 Washington Street, Boston

 

Westfield - June 19, 2017 at 9:00 am

Western MA Hospital Conference Center, Lower Level, 91 East Mountain Road, Westfield 

 

Worcester - June 19, 2017 at 2:00 pm

Worcester Recovery Center and Hospital, Executive Conference Room, 309 Belmont Street, Worcester

 

 

1.      What are the requirements for applying for CHW Certification? 

 

ü  Be at least 18 years-old

ü  Be able to demonstrate “good moral character”

ü  Fee of $35;

ü  Passport photo;

 

ü  Complete ALL sections of the MA CHW Certification APPLICATION which includes:

§  signed statement that applicant has read and understands the Standards of Conduct

§  complete the information required for the pathway you are applying under, (a) Work Experience; or (b) Training + Experience.

§  Three professional references

§  Signed document to authorize Board’s receipt of CORI results* (see question 10)

2.     What is the difference between the two pathways for certification: (a) Work Experience (grandmothered), and (b) Training + Work Experience?

 

(a)    Work Experience (grandmothering pathway)

 

Because Certification will begin in 2017, the Regulations sought to honor the broad experience of CHWs who have practiced in the field prior to 2017. As a result, and only for the next three years (until 2020), experienced CHWs can apply to be “grandmothered” as Certified CHWs. 

 

To apply though the Work Experience Pathway, you must demonstrate that, within the last 10 years, you have worked as a CHW for at least 4,000 hours (the equivalent of two years full time).  Work done as a volunteer (not paid) can be included in the 4,000 hours.

 

For hours to be valid, a supervisor or an individual familiar with your work must verify that during those hours, you worked within the CHW Scope of Practice.

 

Massachusetts CHW Scope of Practice

 

o    Providing culturally appropriate health education, information and outreach in community-based settings including but not limited to homes, schools, hospitals, clinics, shelters, local businesses and community centers;

 

o    Bridging or culturally mediating between individuals, families, communities and health and human services, including actively building individual and community capacity;

 

o    Assisting community members to access the health and human services they need;

 

o    Providing direct services, including but not limited to informal counseling on access to health and human services, social support, care coordination and health screenings;

 

o    Advocating for individual, family and community needs pertaining to access to health and human services; and

 

o    Additional roles as may be identified by the board that may emerge in the development of community health worker practice.

 

(b)    Training + Work Experience Pathway

 

CHWs applying for certification through this pathway must complete “the 80 hour CHW Core Competency Training” through a Board- Approved Training program. 

 

In addition to completing the 80 hours of training, you must demonstrate that, during the past 10 years, you worked as a CHW for at least 2,000 hours.  Work done as a volunteer (not paid) can be included in the 2,000 hours.

 

For hours to be valid, a supervisor or an individual familiar with your work must verify that during those hours, you worked within the CHW Scope of Practice. See above under (a).

 

3.     Who can be a professional reference?

 

As part of the application, you are required to submit three (3) professional references. Your references should be people who are familiar with your CHW work and able to rate you in the Core Competencies:

 

10      CHW Core Competencies

 


1.       Outreach Methods and Strategies

2.       Individual and Community Assessment

3.       Effective Communication

4.       Cultural Responsiveness and Mediation

5.       Education to Promote Healthy Behaviors

6.       Care Coordination & Systems Navigation

7.       Public Health Concepts and Approaches

8.       Advocacy and Community Capacity Building

9.       Documentation

10.    Professional Skills and Conduct


 

ü  References cannot be a spouse, partner, family member, nor a current or past client.

ü  Reference forms are included in the application packet and must be signed and dated by the individual making the reference

ü  If you have worked as a CHW outside of the US, you may obtain references from other countries. (However, at least one of the one must be a current or former supervisor in the U.S.)

ü  References must be submitted with the application in sealed envelopes

 

4.     Can I work as a CHW in Massachusetts if I am not Certified?

 

Yes, you can work as a CHW without certification. State Certification according to the regulations is voluntary; community health workers may practice and call themselves community health workers even if not state Certified.

 

5.     What are the privileges that come with Certification?

 

Only state Certified CHWs can call themselves Certified CHWs. That is, you may add C-CHW as part of your credentials. 

 

6.     What are the approved training programs in Massachusetts?

 

Training programs that wish to be approved by the Board will submit applications to the Board for approval.  Board approved Training Programs will be posted on the website for the Board of Certification.

 

7.     How long is the CHW Certification valid for?  How do I renew it?

 

Certification is valid for 2 years.  In order to renew Certification, the Certified CHW must complete 15 contact hours of qualified (approved by the Board) continuing education activities.

 

The Board has not yet approved the criteria for continuing education activities nor developed criteria for the organizations that could provide the contact hours.  Once approved, the list of continuing education providers will be maintained and published by the Board.

 

8.      What are the CHW Standards of Conduct? 

 

Any health professional in Massachusetts who obtains a license or certification through the Bureau of Health Professions Licensure, must agree to behave according to 28 Standards of Conduct.

 

The Standards of Conduct outline the boundaries of the CHW relationship with employers, clients, and community members.  When you sign the Application, you are agreeing to behave according to these Standards if you become a Certified CHW. Once you are granted Certification, failure to adhere to these Standards could result in the Board revoking your Certification. 

 

9.     What is “Good Moral Character” and how do I demonstrate it in the application?

 

The Regulations do not require CHWs to be CORIed to be granted Certification. However, the Bureau of Health Professions Licensure, the branch of the Department of Public Health under which the Board of Certification sits, uses CORI as one way to assess “good moral character” of individuals applying for licenses or certifications in Massachusetts.

 

Though the Board must follow the policies set forth by the Bureau of Health Professions Licensure, and make CORI checks a requirement for Certification, the Board also recognizes that

ü  involvement in the criminal justice system has become a fairly common experience in the United States with an institutional bias that disproportionately affects people of color;

ü  Involvement in the criminal justice system can have lifelong consequences for many creating barriers to employment and credentialing;

ü  CHWs are a very important workforce and a critical piece of their occupation is the ability to demonstrate shared experience and build trust with the communities they serve. In many cases, having a record and/or experience with the criminal justice system can allow for trust building

 

Therefore, the Board has created a “Suitability for Certification” policy that expands the criteria used by the Bureau of Health Professions Licensure to assess “Good Moral Character.”

 

10. Can I become Certified if I have a positive CORI?

 

YES!

 

CORI is the last step in the application process. It will only be conducted after an applicant meets all the criteria for Certification, e.g., work experience, training, etc.

 

The Board will not see or deny Certification for arrests with no adverse outcome, juvenile offences or sealed items.  In assessing an applicant’s criminal history, the Board will only consider: 1) convictions (except juvenile cases);  and, 2) open cases.

 

Even if you have a conviction or an open case, the Board will review applications on a case-by-case basis, and assess the mitigating circumstances that led to the offence and your rehabilitation process since the offence. The Board might request that applicants with convictions or open records provide additional documentation.

 

For more information about the Suitability for Certification Policy and the Regulations, please visit

http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/hcq/dhpl/community-health-workers/hearings-and-draft-regs.html