Kansas Department of Health and Environment Supports New Community Health Worker Certification

Topeka, Kan. — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and the Kansas Community Health Worker Coalition are excited to announce the new Community Health Worker Certification. This certification is the first in the state to recognize the valuable role that Community Health Workers (CHWs) play in communities as they serve as a link between health and social services and communities to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery.

“CHWs play an integral role in patient-centered health care teams. They improve care accessibility and health outcomes. The diversity of backgrounds, skills and experiences CHWs bring is a strength,” said David Jordan, President and CEO of United Methodist Health Ministry Fund. “The new certification process standardizes Community Health Worker education and training. Ultimately, this will strengthen community health workers’ future in Kansas. The Health Fund is proud to have partnered with the Kansas Community Health Worker workgroup, KDHE and the Kansas Community Health Worker Coalition to standardize the role of CHWs in Kansas.”

A Certification Task Force was formed out of a need to investigate pathways for certification and started in the coalition’s Sustainability Committee. Over the past five years, the development of this certification has been inclusive and transparent. More than 40 individuals from the Kansas Community Health Worker Coalition and beyond were involved in the process.

“Having a certification process for CHWs is key to expanded career options and future opportunities,” said Stefanie Olson, KDHE CHW Section Director.

“This certification also provides CHWs who serve in their communities a way to validate and build their skills in individual and community capacity by increasing health knowledge and self-sufficiency through a range of activities such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support and advocacy” said Alma Vargas, KS CHW Coalition Executive Co-Chair. “It also offers employers of CHWs – particularly health care providers with a key support in these times of increased need for skilled health professionals. This statewide recognized certification can distinguish CHWs from their peers and can help them as they work towards other goals.”

Is this certification for you? Certification requires:

  • High School Diploma or High School Equivalent. Exceptions may be made.
  • Completion of one of these two pathways.
    • Education Pathway: Applicant must complete the KDHE approved CHW training program through the Kansas CHW Coalition or a certified Kansas CHW education provider.
    • Work Experience Pathway: Applicant must complete 800 hours over three years plus three letters of recommendation to document work and/or volunteer experience.

Given CHWs important role in advancing health equity and addressing social determinants of health, these efforts could not have come at a better time.

Visit the Community Health Worker Coalition  to learn more about and apply for the certification, scholarships are available. Health topic information and other resources to support CHWs can be found on both the KDHE and CHW websites. Join KDHE on Thursday, June 9 at Wichita State University, Rhatigan Student Center at 9 a.m. for the annual Kansas Community Health Worker Symposium. Sponsorship and scholarship opportunities are available.

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