Who Are Community Health Workers?
Community Health Workers (CHWs) are trusted community members who participate in training so that they can promote health in their own communities. Communities may be defined by race/ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, age, ability status, other factors, or a combination of factors. CHWs’ unique abilities to contribute to communities and the health system derive from CHWs’ status as community members (Multnomah County Health Department Community Capacitation Center).
CHWs are frontline public health workers who are trusted members of and/ or have an unusually close understanding of the community they serve. This trusting relationship enables CHWs to serve as a liaison/ link/ intermediary between health/social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery. CHWs also build 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 (American Public Health Association, 2008).