Planning and Designing a Rural Community Health Worker Program
Careful program planning and design is essential for success. Basic program planning and design tasks for rural
community health worker (CHW) programs include the following:
Determine program scope, for example, community to be served, health issue(s) of focus. (See Conducting a Needs Assessment in the Rural
Community Health Toolkit for guidance.)
Research jurisdictional policies and laws for CHW programs that apply in the community
Define program coordination responsibilities and CHW roles and responsibilities; convey CHW roles and
responsibilities to existing staff
Identify appropriate CHW program models
Determine funding source(s)
Identify potential barriers and enablers to implementation
(see Implementation Challenges
for more information)
Describe short- and long-term goals and intended outcomes
Make a plan for program evaluation and identify appropriate evaluation measures
Develop a timeline for program planning, implementation, and evaluation (see Module 5 for information on CHW
Create a sustainability plan (see Module 6
for information on CHW program sustainability)
When planning a CHW program, communities should identify and involve partner organizations and individuals.
Partners may include community members; individuals and organizations that work with the population or health
issue of focus, such as faith-based organizations, community-based organizations, and social workers; government
agencies; and other stakeholders. Involving partners will help to build broader support for the program and make
sure that the program reflects community preferences, needs, and culture. It may also be beneficial to conduct
regular discussions with stakeholders as the program progresses in order to change and improve implementation
plans and processes.
Resources to Learn More
a Community Health Worker Program: The Key to Better Care, Better Outcomes, & Lower Costs
Demonstrates the benefits of CHW programs in improving patient health and provides information on implementing
CHW programs in hospitals and healthcare systems.
Author(s): Brooks, B.A., Davis, S., Frank-Lightfoot, et al.
Organization(s): American Hospital Association
Steps to Design a Community Health Worker Program: Tools for Implementing a Sustainable and Effective
Offers best practices and resources for designing a sustainable CHW program.
Organization(s): Advisory Board
Practice Guidelines for Implementing and Evaluating Community Health Worker Programs in Health Care
Offers healthcare administrators, providers, and others guidance and recommendations when developing CHW
programs. Addresses hiring, training, supervision, evaluation, and integration of CHWs into healthcare
Author(s): Kapheim, M.G. & Campbell, J.
Organization(s): Sinai Urban Health Institute
Including Community Health Workers
(CHWs) in Health Care Settings: A Checklist for Public Health Practitioners
Provides a framework for implementing CHW programs and integrating CHWs into a healthcare setting. Includes CHW
program planning, implementation, evaluation, and financial sustainability.
Organization(s): U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Health Worker (CHW) Toolkit: A Guide for Employers
Provides employers in clinical settings guidance for CHW program planning and practice integration. Includes
information on CHW scope of practice, education and training opportunities, hiring, evaluation and financial
sustainability for CHWs programs.
Organization(s): Minnesota Department of Health, Office of Rural Health and Primary Care