At present, there are several gaps preventing Community Health Workers (CHWs) in Texas from fully participating in the nation’s effort to transform the community health infrastructure. The quality of training across the state varies, and no central entity offers technical support, tools to enhance community health workers’ efforts, or connects them with work placement after training. While the flexibility of the current Texas CHW training delivery and certification process allows sites to serve the varying needs of diverse patient populations, this approach can lead to disparities between the training provided and the skills necessary to enter the workforce.
With generous funding through a grant from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the Center for Health Equity Research (HER), began an initiative to perform a comprehensive, multi-level workforce analysis within Central Texas and will join forces with existing agencies who are currently providing certified CHW training. The aim of the CHW Institute is to develop comprehensive health promotion training and continuing education, identify and connect trainees with work opportunities, and promote adequate reimbursement. Working collaboratively with other training and community organizations, this CHW initiative will provide education, resources and support to improve consistency of training quality and career readiness for this workforce across the state. This joint initiative will ensure that health workers develop high quality, comprehensive, and measureable skills to better address chronic disease management, prevention and other social determinants of health. This collaborative approach will also help us address ways to develop a more sustainable, fundable workforce that ultimately improves community health.
In its next phase, the Institute will offer continuing education and technological tools/support to strengthen community capacity for CHW employment and development enabling this essential workforce to serve as a catalyst to improve community health among underserved populations in Central Texas.