Community Health Workers

An important part of the region's health care system

Community Health Workers (CHWs) serve as a link between a patient and health or social service agencies, working to improve health outcomes by improving access to services and quality of care. CHWs are trusted members of the community and have a close understanding of the community they serve. This trusting relationship enables the worker to serve as a link between health and social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery.

Who hires CHWs?

  • Federally qualified health centers.
  • Public health departments.
  • Hospitals.
  • Community-based organizations.
  • Health insurance organizations.
  • Dental offices and oral health programs. 
  • Area Agencies on Aging and senior centers. 
  • Faith-based programs.

See our inventory of CHW programs in the region.

What do CHWs do? 

  • Connect patients to needed community resources and social services. 
  • Increase access to and use of preventive education, screenings and treatment services. 
  • Reduce unnecessary use of urgent hospital emergency department care. 
  • Improve self-management of chronic diseases. 
  • Strengthen patient health literacy and culturally competent provider practices. 
  • Build capacity in communities to address the underlying causes of ill health. 
  • Help individuals and families obtain and maintain health insurance coverage. 

KC Regional Community Health Worker Collaborative 

The Mid-America Regional Council has supported a KC Regional Community Health Worker Collaborative since 2016. The Collaborative has focused on capacity building, advocacy and sustainability of the profession.

  • The KC Regional CHW Collaborative meets quarterly.
  • The CWH Advocacy subcommittee and the CHW Forum both meet on the fourth Thursday of each month (other than November and December holidays).

Contact Hannayd Ruiz if you’d like to be added to the distribution list. 

Capacity Building

Through capacity building, the CHW Collaborative, CHW Forum and subcommittees have brought agencies and CHWs together to build strong relationships.  The CHW Collaborative meets quarterly and the CHW Forum meets monthly. Anyone is welcome to participate in these meetings. The CHW Collaborative supports an Advocacy Subcommittee that meets every other month.

Through the CHW Collaborative, strong training programs have been designed and delivered throughout Missouri and Kansas, including initial CHW training, continuing education series and supervisory training. The Collaborative has supported the development of professional recognition- programs through Missouri Credentialing Board and a certificate through the Kansas CHW Coalition.  Currently, the CHW Collaborative is hosting training through MARC’s Government Training Institute for Continuing Education and Supervisory Training. A Learning Management System allows all CHWs to access recorded training sessions and secure CEU credits toward their credential or certificate.

Advocacy

The CHW Collaborative has focused attention on building the CHW workforce by encouraging area residents to obtain training and become employed in the field. The CHW Collaborative has focused on encouraging health care and other community organizations to employ CHWs to support patients/clients. The CHW Collaborative has encouraged funders to support the use of CHW in the community. These efforts continue through an active CHW Advocacy Subcommittee.

Sustainability

The CHW Collaborative has released a new Toolkit, entitled Reimbursement Strategies for Employers of Community Health Workers, to help employers of CHWs be able to seek reimbursement from public and private health care payers.

Erika Saleski, ES Advisors LLC, and Tim McNeill, Freedmen’s Health, authored the toolkit for the Collaborative.

Accomplishments

In 2016, the KC Regional Community Health Worker Collaborative was established with the mission to integrate Community Health Workers (CHWs) into the health and human services systems through capacity building, advocacy and sustainability. Read about what the Collaborative and their partners accomplished in their first five years.

CHW Collaborative logo
Health Forward Foundation logo
Kansas Department of Health and Environment logo

The CHW Collaborative’s work is supported by grants from the Health Forward Foundation and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Learn More / Get Involved

2022 CHW Collaborative Meetings include the Advocacy Subcommittee and CHW Forum on the fourth Thursday of each month (other than November and December holidays).

The KC Regional CHW Collaborative meets quarterly.

Contact Hannayd Ruiz if you’d like to be added to the distribution list.