RIDOH, Community Partners Celebrate New Community Health Worker Certification Program

Central Falls – As part of statewide efforts to build healthier communities and help Rhode Islanders develop skills that matter for jobs that pay, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) today joined partners in government, higher education, and community organizations in celebrating new certification opportunities for Community Health Workers through the Rhode Island Certification Board. Community health workers are frontline, public health workers that often serve as a link between individuals or communities and needed health or social services.

«Health begins where we live, learn, work, and play, and Community Health Workers can play an essential role in addressing the social and environmental factors that make an individual, family, or community unhealthy,» said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. «These new certification standards will help ensure that every Rhode Islander has access to high-quality health and wellness services in their communities. They will also help Community Health Workers develop and demonstrate their unique skills and pursue meaningful careers in healthcare.»

The new professional credentialing process was made possible through a recently-formalized academic partnership between RIDOH and Rhode Island College (RIC). Through this collaboration, the Healthy Jobs for RI initiative at RIC will house Rhode Island’s Community Health Worker Association (RICHWA), assist individuals who are seeking Community Health Worker certification, and lead workforce development initiatives. «Rhode Island College is proud to be working collaboratively with government, business, education, and Rhode Island citizens to develop and implement programming that will create meaningful change both economically and socially,» said RIC President Dr. Frank Sánchez. The collaboration between RIDOH and RIC collaboration will enhance the work of the existing RICHWA.

«Through supporting certification, the State of Rhode Island joins with the Community Health Worker Association of Rhode Island in acknowledging the Community Health Worker as a vital part of the healthcare workforce,» said Rhode Island Parent Information Network Director and CHWARI Advisory Board member Laura Jones. «With Healthy Jobs for RI support, the CHWARI will be re-established as the go-to organization for those interested in becoming a Community Health Worker.»

In addition to the services provided through the Healthy Jobs for RI initiative, RIC will offer a Community Health Worker training program in Central Falls through the RIC Parent College. A listing of other training sites can be found on RIDOH’s website at www.health.ri.gov/community/about/workers/.

«We’re delighted Rhode Island has navigated the complex process of setting up a certification system, and that you listened to and addressed a variety of concerns during that process,» said US Department of Health and Human Services Region I Health Administrator Betsy F. Rosenfeld, J.D. «It’s necessary for creating a reimbursable labor force that will link clinical issues to community social determinants of health, and move the needle on health outcomes both for individuals and communities.» To be a certified Community Health Worker, applicants should possess education in nine separate modules on topics like individual and community assessment, public health concepts and approaches, promotion of health and wellbeing, and culturally and linguistically appropriate services. In addition to the formal classroom training, applicants must have completed six months (or 1,000 hours) of paid or volunteer work experience in the last five years and 50 hours of supervised work. Community Health Workers must be re-certified every two years and must complete 20 hours of continuing education.

For information on the Community Health Worker Certification Program or to apply for certification, visit http://www.health.ri.gov/communities/about/workers/