The PA Community Health Worker Steering Group Appoints Advisory Members
In the latest step in a series of efforts to uplift Community Health Workers (CHWs) and solidify their position in the healthcare professions, the Pennsylvania Community Health Worker Steering Group is building a CHW Advisory Council. This Council will help further the Jewish Healthcare Foundation's years-long campaign to establish professional status for CHWs.
The Pennsylvania Community Health Worker (CHW) Steering Group sent recommendations for CHW Advisory Council members to the Pennsylvania Certification Board (PCB), which created the Certified CHW Credential in 2020. The CHW Advisory Council will assist PCB staff with application questions, review CHW requirements, establish training standards for accredited CHW training programs, and create processes for accreditation.The Council will also create and implement criteria for bi-annual certification renewal and establish complaint procedures for CHW employers and training programs. A key player in recent efforts, JHF Chief Policy Officer Robert Ferguson has facilitated the Steering Group and Task Forces' work, convening members from across the Commonwealth to push CHWs to the forefront of the community-informed health workforce.
These efforts will build on JHF's years-long projects in CHW training. In 2014, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) supported the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation (NEHI) in convening a national CHW Summit to explore quality improvement and cost reduction. This led to a JHF-NEHI collaboration on a 2015 issue brief, "Community Health Workers: Getting the Job Done in Healthcare Delivery," highlighting CHW best practices. JHF then organized a CHW Statewide Summit in Harrisburg, which led to the creation and ongoing work of the PA CHW Steering Group and Task Forces on Policy, Training, and Employment. JHF went on to demonstrate the benefit of CHWs through the Minority AIDS Initiative, a doula CHW program of WHAMglobal and the Allegheny Health Network Center for Inclusion Health, and the CHW Champions Program to support seniors. JHF also included CHWs in the Community HealthChoices education program. These successes inspired the move towards training and accreditation for CHWs. JHF piloted Pennsylvania's first Certified CHW Apprenticeship Program last summer and graduated the first cohort on January 22.
With the addition of Advisory Group members, the Steering Group will gain expertise crucial to accrediting and standardizing CHW education and recognizing this work with a professional status. The members of the CHW Advisory Group include: Jamie Lee Santana, CCHW, Community Health Worker, Children's Clinic; Ashlee Harris, Community Health Worker, Penn Medicine; Gloria Rivera, Community Health Worker, Lehigh Valley Health Network; Elizabeth Schaffer, MS, MPH, CHES, Health Educator, Eastcentral and Northeast PA AHEC; Casey Chanton, LSW, Project Manager, Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice, Department of Emergency Medicine, Drexel University School of Public Health/School of Medicine; Edoris Lomax, CHW & Diabetes Prevention Program Coordinator, Temple Center for Population Health, Temple University Health System; Kiera Kenney, MSW, Integrated Peer Models for Health, Project Manager, Health Federation of Philadelphia; Shirley Moy, Executive Director, North Philadelphia Workforce Initiative, Temple University; and Renee Thomas, LPN, Community Health Worker, United Health Group.