Training for Community Health Workers Helps Break Down Barriers to Needed Services

Oct 12, 2010, 10:32 ET from Collins Center for Public Policy

MIAMI, Oct. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Collins Center for Public Policy is announcing the release of a college-level training curriculum that provides the basic foundation for training community health workers.



Thousands of community health workers (CHWs) are helping their communities every day as family advocates, outreach workers and lay health educators. These workers help their neighbors navigate the health care bureaucracy and social system maze by breaking down the barriers to needed care. They provide a critical link to health care in multi-ethnic and underserved communities.

"Beyond the medical assistance provided, the greatest asset CHWs provide is their connection to the communities they serve," said Dr. Leda Perez, vice president of health initiatives for the Collins Center. "They reach out to residents, sometimes traveling door to door. In this way, CHWs become an indispensable ally for people who may be vulnerable or marginalized because of language, cultural, or financial and geographic barriers."

The Community Health Worker Curriculum is designed by experienced CHWs and incorporates current practices in preventative health care. The CHW training increases the competencies of the staff providing services to children and families, and expands the staff's knowledge of public health, family support and community-based service programs. The program also aims to promote career development and recognition for workers who provide outreach, education, information, advocacy and support services to families.

The CHW training program involves 35 hours of classroom time and 15 hours of field experience and is divided into four modules covering the following topics:

  • Characterizing the role of CHWs
  • Identifying legal, cultural, and confidentiality issues
  • Recognizing warning signs and protective factors for families and neighborhoods
  • Improving interpersonal communication skills
  • Promoting healthy lifestyles to clients
  • Sharing skills used in outreach and health education
  • Providing oral presentations, documentation, and interviewing skills
  • Teaching client assessment skills and teamwork
  • Accessing community resources
  • Providing a practical experience through the Practicum

"While CHWs benefit their community by improving access to health care and other services, the CHWs also benefit from this training by being given the opportunity to continue on a professional career track," said Perez. "This curriculum was used in Miami-Dade College where more than 200 CHWs successfully completed the course. We hope to offer this valuable teaching tool to other colleges around the state."

To learn more about the curriculum or inquire about organizing a class or purchasing the learning materials, contact Leda Perez at or by phone at 305-377-4484 or 305-767-4632.

SOURCE Collins Center for Public Policy