Community Health Worker NetworksNWRPCA supports community health workers through the joint coordination of state-based CHW networks. Both the Washington and Oregon Community Health Worker Networks meet on a quarterly basis for training and resource sharing. Through these efforts NWRPCA seeks to promote a regional model of CHW support, training and advocacy.
Funding for the Community Health Worker networks is provided, in part, through a grant from the Regence Foundation.
In recent years, the Community Health Worker field has grown significantly in the United States. According to a 2007 CHW Workforce Study conducted by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), there were 86,000 community health workers in the United States in 2000, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects this to be among the fastest growing occupations in the healthcare field.
Community Health Workers – or promotores de salud as they are more commonly referred to within Migrant Health – play a vital role in facilitating health care access to underserved communities, including farmworkers, while addressing healthcare disparities and improving health outcomes.
In 2004, CHWs from health centers and related agencies in Washington State sought a networking venue to discuss best practices and resources and to receive training. Together with our partner, the Washington Association of Community and Migrant Health Centers, NWRPCA developed and launched the Washington Community Health Worker Network. The mission of the network is to produce a confident, broadly trained workforce of community health workers that will increase access to healthcare, improve health behaviors in their communities, and ultimately decrease health disparities within the state.
Following the success of the Washington Network model, NWRPCA began to organize a CHW Network in Oregon in 2008. Grassroots development of the network has steadily progressed with the adoption in 2009 of the following mission statement: To serve as a unified voice for community health workers and build a leadership alliance that fosters the professional development of its members to improve community health.