Project Name: Community Health Worker Institute

Project Overview:

The aim of this two-year project is to develop an institute that will serve as a training, technical assistance, and resource hub for community health centers (CHCs) to help them more effectively train and integrate community health workers (CHWs) into health center care teams.

The development of the CHW Institute builds on NWRPCA’s work over the past 15 years in supporting the CHW workforce, including a recent initiative supported by RCHN Community Health Foundation to better understand how CHWs can be leveraged to enhance the effectiveness of behavioral health-primary care integration in CHC settings. The CHW Institute will further advance NWRPCA’s goal of developing a model of CHW support, training, and advocacy that promotes strategies for integrating and sustaining the CHW workforce in community health settings.

Through the development of the Institute, NWRPCA will both support CHWs through training and professional development and aid CHCs in developing the organizational capacity to optimize the engagement of an effective CHW workforce. The Institute will address three core areas:

1. Capacity building, leadership, and professional development for CHWs:

NWRPCA will assess the training needs of CHWs and offer training that fills in the gaps in competencies needed by CHWs who work in CHC settings to enhance their effectiveness, including integrated behavioral health, chronic disease management/prevention, population health management, and addressing the social determinants of health. The CHW Institute expects to offer training that aligns with core competencies identified at the national level (i.e. the Community Health Worker Core Consensus (C3) Project), as well as state-based training efforts.

2. Capacity building and organizational development in CHCs for systems integration of CHWs:

The CHW Institute will develop and/or broker resources, training, and technical assistance for CHCs to help support integration of CHWs into clinical and community-based teams. This will include several components, including understanding scope of practice, hiring, supervision, and program evaluation. Ultimately, under this focus area the CHW Institute will provide services to CHCs that assist with the design, implementation, and long-term sustainability of CHW programs.

3. Policy development to support the CHW workforce:

The CHW Institute will convene CHWs on a regular basis to ensure that CHWs are aware of any policy changes, proposed or enacted, and/or considerations that have the potential to impact their work, profession, and/or the communities they serve.
The CHW Institute will be a vehicle for CHWs who work at CHCs to share their perspective on certain contentious topics, such as certification, thereby ensuring that CHWs have a seat at the table in conversations that impact their work. In addition, the Institute will support policy development to finance and sustain CHW services, including through value-based care payment models.

Project objectives:

  • Develop portfolio of trainings to develop skills/competencies of CHWs needed to be effective in CHC setting
  • Establish and facilitate a CHW peer-to-peer learning collaborative.
  • Conduct an environmental assessment of CHCs that have effectively integrated CHWs into their systems of care
  • Provide organizational development support via training and technical assistance services that addresses a range of topics, including CHW program design, implementation, and sustainability
  • Develop and/or identify resources to be shared with CHCs, PCAs, ACO entities, and managed care organizations (MCOs) to help advocate for the inclusion of the CHW workforce in value-based care contracts

Project Partners:

In addition to working with CHCs and PCAs, NWRPCA expects to engage various partner organizations, national and regional, as subject matter experts, consultants, and advisory members.

About the Grantee

Northwest Regional Primary Care Association (NWRPCA) is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 membership-driven organization that serves community and migrant health centers (C/MHCs) in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington (federal Region X). Founded in 1983, NWRPCA offers a range of programs and services to support and strengthen C/MHCs in the Northwest. NWRPCA works to ensure equal access, regardless of one’s financial or insurance status, to primary and preventive health care for all residents living in the region.