CHI Community Health Workers and Workforce Development
At the conclusion of the TCHI CHW Roundtable series, TCHI Roundtable Monograph, in 2004, it was concluded that to create a program for under-served and under-represented communities, the first step would be to create an entry level program that would provide an on ramp for the under-utilized and unrecognized talents in our selected communities. The CHI CHW Core Curriculum Program is the result.
The Dept of Labor and Training’s 2006 Employment Projections of Major Occupational Groups to 2016 has Community & Social Services Occupations and Healthcare Support Occupations as the largest growth industries with a projected increase of 21.7% and 23% respectively. The creation of and entry level CHWs program provides another point of access for underrepresented communities into the health field.
Rhode Island’s Dept of Labor and Training Sept 2009 report on Community Health Work Workforce Landscape and Industry Demand, revealed that 97 % of CHW employers stated the need for CHW would remain the same or increase with within the next 5 years. Two thirds of those who state it would remain the same said state that this would be do so due to lack of adequate funding, http://www.dlt.ri.gov/lmi/publications/communityhealth.htm. It should be noted that this report was done prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act in March of 2010, PLAW-111publ148.pdf.
With the new Affordable Care Act, it is anticipate that in 2014 when the Act goes fully into effect, Rhode Island will have an estimated influx of 130,000 uninsured people to cover. Therefore there will be an even greater need for CHWs to enroll people and navigate people through health care and social service systems. This highlights the timeliness of the CHI CHW program; setting the foundation for future development of a CHW workforce that will be by necessity in demand. It will also set the stage for the development of a health workforce that is grounded and forward thinking in its community orientation.
The Act also has an extensive prevention of chronic disease section that calls for community driven input, plans and solutions. With an eye on planning now it is evident that Community health workers are ideally situated to respond the the anticipated influx of uninsured men, women and child as well as work with communities to develop community oriented and driven health plans. Again this makes the new CHI community health worker courses needed even more. It is now that we begin the development of a workforce that can participate in the future demands for greater community input, plans and creation of platforms for innovation.
Lastly, the Industry Partners funded by the Governor’s Workforce Board Rhode Island released a report on the skills gaps in their high-growth industries with health care identified as one of these areas, http://www.ccri.edu/president/pdfs/EDC_final_report.pdf. Small employers were especially vocal about the importance of teaching soft skills/people skills, which largely deal with communications, professionalism and ability to work as part of a team. An entry CHW course can provide a time for addressing these issues as Rhode Island moves to develop its workforce for the future.
In summary, the CHI community health worker program will equip Rhode Island to create foundation to be responsive to anticipated need for more community oriented care, the future demand of the CHW workforce, and address many of the issues Governor’s workforce reports.