Community Health Workers

Definition

The Department of Health and Senior Services is utilizing the American Public Health Association’s definition. Community Health Workers (CHW) are frontline public health workers who are trusted members of and/or have a close understanding of the communities served. This trusting relationship enables the CHW to serve as a liaison/link/intermediary between health/social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery. A CHW also builds individual and community capacity by increasing health knowledge and self-sufficiency through a range of activities such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support and advocacy.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states Community Health Workers are liaisons with resources in the communities they serve. They play a vital role in improving Missourian’s health by providing a connection between health systems and community resources, as well as education on how to reduce behavioral health risk factors.

Scope of Practice

Roles and Responsibilities CHWs might perform in the workplace and may be included in a job description:

Individual Support

Provide encouragement and social support to assist individuals with goal setting and barrier identification within professional boundaries.

Care Coordination

Assist in coordinating care by linking people to appropriate information and services.

Healthcare Liaison

Serve as a culturally-informed liaison between individuals and community healthcare systems.

Health Education

Provide culturally appropriate health education to individuals, organizations and/or communities, in an effort to reduce modifiable risk factors and encourage healthy behaviors.

Advocacy

Recognize gaps and advocate for individual and community health needs.