Supporting the Integration of Community Health Workers into Health Care Teams in California


Susan Chapman,  Jennifer Schindel, Jacqueline Miller

July 6, 2017

Community health workers (CHWs) and promotores de salud are playing an increasingly important role in the delivery of high quality and equitable health related services, particularly to vulnerable populations. Using a Theory of Change framework, this report connects intervention and support opportunities across the spectrum of policy, care delivery and workforce development to drive collective action toward integrating this complex and critically important role into health care teams in California. Integrating CHWs and promotores into more traditional clinical care models is proving to have direct impact on addressing social determinants of health, enhancing patient care, and improving access to health care and social services. Creating a sustainable community health workforce will require institutional and cultural change in health care systems as well as direct investment into community health and the existing models of care that have been actively working on-the-ground for decades to enhance the health and well-being of marginalized communities. Here are some quotes from study participants:

“We want people to grow as CHWs in all levels, whether at the field level, program design/evaluation, supervisor, etc.” —Medical Director “I feel blessed at the moment. I am a trailblazer, and I like that. I would like to have the ability to train others as well.” —Community Health Worker “We are like the thread in the material. You don’t always see it, but it’s important. You are always winding and tying things together from the community to the medical field.” —Community Health Worker “It would be nice if all of us could work together and skill share. The promotora model has more knowledge about the community, interpersonal, and family matters that [clinicians] may not be tapping into. There is room to work together...” —Social Work Lead/CHW Supervisor