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Community Health Workers 

Question: Who are community health workers (CHWs)?

Answer: CHWs are trusted, frontline public health workers who have a close connection and/or are part of the communities they serve. This trusting relationship enables CHWs to effectively serve as a bridge or link between individuals/families/communities and health, education, social service, or other systems. 

CHWs increase and provide access to culturally responsive, linguistically appropriate, individually- and community-centered services. CHWs build individual and community capacity by increasing health knowledge and social support networks through a range of activities such as health promotion, outreach, community education, social support and advocacy. 

Question: What is the history of CHWs?

Answer: This helpful resource from MHP Salud describes the history of CHWs in the US with a timeline, moments of interest, and further resources.

    Certification/registration as a CHW


     How do I become recognized or registered with the State of Oregon as a CHW?


    RESOURCE: We put together a couple documents outlining the process,  basic steps and a  detailed step by step process

    Question: What is the "Legacy Clause"?

    Answer: Individuals who have had significant experience as community health workers but not have completed the foundational training may still become registered with the state of Oregon as a CHW. 

    To qualify you must:

    • Be at least 18 years of age;
    • Not be listed on the Medicaid Provider Exclusion List;
    • Provide OHA documentation that you have worked or volunteered as a CHW for at least 3000 hours in Oregon between January 1, 2008 and June 30, 2025; 
    • Provide OHA a minimum of one letter of recommendation from any previous employer where you provided CHW services; 
    • Pass the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) background check; AND
    • Complete and submit application to OHA all documentation. 

    (If you have completed some or all of the certification training requirements, you may be able to count previously - completed training toward certification.) 

    For more information, go to:

    Question:  How much does the CHW training cost?

    Answer:  CHW training costs vary by organization.  For information on any ORCHWA hosted training, please contact us at and we will be in touch.

    Question: How do I prove that I'm a certified CHW?

    Answer: The OHA maintains the THW Registry employers can consult.

    Question:  How much does it cost to get on the Traditional Health Worker (THW) Registry?

    Answer: There are no costs to register with OHA nor for the background checks done by the OHA. However, if a CHW is required to do fingerprinting, OHA does not cover that cost. Please contact OHA with any additional questions regarding the certification or  recertification process:

    Question:  Do I have to become registered with the state to be recognized as a community health worker?

    Answer: No. However some employers require CHWs to be registered with the State of Oregon though there are many who work as CHWs and choose not to register with OHA. 


    Question:  I was on the THW Registry but did not resubmit an application to renew my certification, what can I do?

    Answer: Community health workers who have registered with the State of Oregon on the OHA Traditional Health Worker Registry  but whose certification has lapsed for more than 6-months can choose to take a CHW Competency Exam. At this time ORCHWA is the only organization offering the CHW Competency Exam. The exam is offered virtually or in person. For more information or to sign up for the exam contact us at

    Continuing Education Units (CEU)

    Question: What are the continuing education requirements to maintain my CHW certification?

    Answer: All CHWs must complete at least 20 hours of CEUs during the three-year period between certification and renewal.  Beginning July 1, 2022, to renew your CHW certification 3 of the 20 CEUs are required to be in suicide prevention.  

    Question: What CEUs is ORCHWA offering?

    Answer: Our training calendar can be found here, or join our listserv for regular training announcements.  

    Question: Where can I find a list of CEU offerings across the state?

    Answer: For an updated list of state approved CEU offerings please visit OHA Approved Training Sites

    Question: If I want to offer CEUs, how and where do I receive approval?

    Answer:  Complete an OHA CEU Training Program Application here:

    RESOURCE: Oregon Laws website

    Employing CHWs

    Question: Who provides CHW supervision?

    Answer:  CHW supervision depends on the employer.  ORCHWA recommends supervision of CHWs is provided by individual with experience in strength-based supervision, with an understanding of the CHW scope of services.

    If the employer is billing Medicaid for CHW services the CHW must be supervised by an existing Licensed Health Care Professional with one of the following credentials: physician, certified nurse practitioner, physician assistant, dentist, dental hygienists, Ph.D. Psychologist, LCST, licensed professional counselor. (CHW Billing Guidance that is available on OHA website is for employers to bill for CHW services provided by CHWs on the THW Registry.) 

    Question: What are some tips for writing a CHW job description?


    • Be innovative with the job description, and focus on talents. 
    • Use plain language; e.g.  "Experience with children and families either in a formal setting, or through parenting, grand parenting, fostering, etc."  
    • Be clear if there is an expectation or requirement for the CHW to be Registered with the State of Oregon (on the THW Registry).  If the requirement is they are on the THW Registry specify that the candidate possess CHW Certification or the ability to possess CHW Certification within a realistic timeframe from when employment begins.
    Question: What are some qualities to look for in candidates for CHW positions?

    Answer: It is most important that a CHW is the best match to the organization and to the population they would serve.  

    Question: How do you balance the funder or program needs verses the needs of the community health workers support, recognition and professional development?

    Answer: Funder/Program needs don't need to be in competition with supporting CHWs.  Continue to learn about how to create environments that best support CHW retention, including supportive strength-based supervision, appropriate job expectations, etc. Understand that working with CHWs is part of an effective strategy to move closer to health equity and community aligned services. Create realistic and attainable metrics, deliverables, and expectations that account for short-, mid-, and long-term outcomes. 

    orchwa membership

    Question: What is an ORCHWA member?

    Answer: ORCHWA members are CHWs, supervisors, traditional health workers, allies and advocates who bring crucial connections, insights, and perspectives to the work we do.

    Question: How do I become an ORCHWA member?

    Answer: You can easily sign up on our website!

    Question: How do I check to see if my ORCHWA membership is still active?


    • Try logging into our members only area of the website.
    • If you don't have or remember a password, click on the 'forgot my password' link and follow the directions. If your membership was active within the last few years you will be in the system and it will send you instructions on how to reset your password. Once you are logged in, you can check your membership status and renew or upgrade your account.  
    • If you are unable to login, or have further questions, please contact us.

    Question: What benefits does an ORCHWA membership offer?

    Answer: Member benefits currently include voting* in our annual meeting, discounted tickets to the annual conference and select training opportunities, access to our members’ only database, general and regional forums, and networking opportunities!

    *Voting rights only apply to ORCHWA Members who are CHWs

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          (855) 445-CHWS (2497)

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