There is a growing need for Community Health Workers in health care because they provide medical, language and cultural translation, health education, information and referrals, intake and eligibility services, case management, and advocacy to diverse populations. CHWs with these skills help individuals and communities improve health-care access, prevent disease and injury, and improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of health care. They are critical members of a health team dedicated to community health equity.
Current research in the Bay Area and in other areas in the United States indicates a great potential for Community Health Workers to play an expanding role in the U.S. health-care system. The majority of CHWs are employed by county health departments, health clinics, and other community-based health organizations. Some examples of Sonoma County agencies and organizations that employ CHWs are: Alliance Medical Center, California Parenting Institute, Department of Health Services, Drug Abuse Alternatives Center, Face to Face, homeless centers, Sonoma County Indian Health Project, Southwest Community Health Center, Head Start, Interlink, Positive Images and Catholic Charities and WIC.
CHW job descriptions and titles vary: case manager, community health representative, community health outreach worker, drug and alcohol counselor, family advisor, health-care interpreter, health worker, nutrition assistant, outreach worker, public health aide, etc. Starting salaries range from $31,000 to $38,000 annually in the San Francisco Bay Area, with positions commonly being grant funded.
CHWs may specialize in areas of greatest need in the communities they serve, e.g., maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS education, health-care interpreting, violence prevention, chronic disease care/prevention, homelessness, mental health, drug and alcohol use, or elderly health.
Accreditation & Licensure
Licensing is not required for Community Health Workers.