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Resources Needed

Successful programs identify existing resources and best practices, tailoring them to address their community's needs. These resources are adapted based on program goals, model, and scope. Depending on the community health worker (CHW) program, required resources may include staff, space, and transportation.

Many existing CHW programs have established relationships with other community organizations and consider these relationships to be important to success. These partners may serve as funders for CHW programs and provide guidance for the program.

Potential partners for CHW programs include:

  • Public health organizations
  • Universities and colleges
  • Health and dental plans
  • Foundations
  • Government organizations
  • Community service organizations
  • Volunteer groups
  • Multicultural alliances and associations
  • Local hospitals
  • State and local health departments

CHWs that work with partners such as hospitals to deliver services to patients must be properly introduced to staff at the partner organization to clarify their roles. This ensures other health workers, such as nurses, social workers, etc., do not perceive CHWs as a threat to their duties.

In some instances, policy changes may be necessary to increase CHW involvement. Potential policy options may address CHWs' provision of services, involvement in care delivery teams, implementation of certification, and defining scope of practice.

Technology is increasingly important to support CHWs, especially in certain models like the Care Coordinator/Manager Model. Technology can improve care coordination — helping CHWs identify and track referrals and next steps for clients — as well as information-sharing with other providers and services. Information regarding care coordination and the use of health information technology is available in the Rural Care Coordination Toolkit.

Resources to Learn More

Community Health Worker Assessment and Improvement Matrix (CHW AIM): A Toolkit for Improving CHW Programs and Services
Defines a set of key elements needed for CHW programs to function effectively and measures how well programs meet criteria. It presents a CHW Program Assessment and Improvement Matrix (CHW AIM) tool with 15 programmatic components that CHW programs should consider as important to successfully supporting CHWs.
Author(s): Crigler, L., Hill, K., & Bjerregaard, D.
Date: 9/2013

Community Health Workers in Health Care for the Homeless
This guide is intended to show health program administrators how to apply the CHW model to homeless communities including components to prioritize when developing programs.
Author(s): Valesky, K.
Organization(s): National Health Care Council for the Homeless
Date: 6/2011

Handbook for Enhancing Community Health Worker Programs: Guidance from the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (Part 1)
Serves as a framework for developing and managing CHW programs that cover a broad array of health issues. Describes six key components of effective CHW programs.
Organization(s): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Date: 3/1998

Incorporating Community Health Workers into State Health Care Systems: Options for Policymakers
Discusses policy options for the implementation of CHW programs.
Organization(s): National Conference of State Legislators
Date: 8/2015

Promising Approaches to Integrating Community Health Workers into Health Systems: Four Case Studies
Describes challenges and opportunities for integrating CHWs into health systems by offering four case studies in Texas, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Ohio.
Organization(s): Urban Institute
Date: 3/2014

Start to Finish: Your Toolkit to Plan and Run a Heart Health Program
A toolkit to support the implementation of a CHW program to improve heart health.
Organization(s): National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Technical Assistance Guide for States Implementing Community Health Worker Strategies
Summarizes the successful work of nine organizations with a special interest in integrating CHWs into healthcare teams and offers insights for states that are implementing the CHW strategies.
Organization(s): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Date: 12/2014