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. 

CHW Success Stories

Learn more about the impact of CHWs are making an impact in our region.

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.

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.


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.


The CHW Collaborative has released an updated Summary of State Plan Amendments from 13 states on the reimbursement of CHWs through Medicaid. Erika Saleski, ES Advisors LLC, prepared this update for the Collaborative. 

The original version of this report was prepared in 2022 with funding from the California Healthcare Foundation, with updates in 2024 funded by the Health Forward Foundation. The use of information from this report is permitted with prior approval from Mid-America Regional Council. Please email to request permission.

The CHW Collaborative released a 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.


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.

COVID-19 Report: Roles and Value of CHWs

The COVID-19 pandemic caused dramatic health and economic consequences for many residents in the Kansas City region, and health organizations increasingly relied on CHWs to help clients secure emergency and other resources, understand the risks from the coronavirus disease and the importance of mitigation measures, testing and vaccines. The Kansas City region experienced an increase in the number of agencies employing CHWs between the first quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2022, and an expansion of the roles that CHWs delivered in serving patients and the community.

This report summarizes findings from conversations with representatives from 10 agencies in the Kansas City metro area who employ CHWs to increase understanding of the role of CHWs in responding to a public health crisis, and what was learned that could contribute to strengthening the region’s health care system if another emergency situation arises.

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 and get involved

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.