Community Health Worker Program (CHWP)
Community health workers provide outreach, education, referral and followup, case management, advocacy and home visiting services to women who are at highest risk for poor birth outcomes, particularly low-birth weight and infant mortality. The CHWP is targeted to specific communities with high rates of infant mortality, out-of-wedlock births, late or no prenatal care, teen pregnancies and births, and births to low-income women. The program's focus is on getting pregnant women into early and consistent prenatal care and ensuring their families receive primary and preventive health care services. There are 23 programs currently across the state.
Services are provided by paraprofessionals who live in or are familiar with the community. They create a bridge between providers of health, social and community services and the underserved and hard-to-reach populations within the community. Community health workers (CHW) are trained to provide basic health education and referrals for a wide range of services, and to provide support and assistance in navigating the health and social services system. The CHWs:
- Conduct intensive outreach efforts to pregnant women, including pregnant women who are uninsured, underinsured, are not involved in prenatal, health or other community services, and other high risk populations living in the target area to help get these women into prenatal and other health care services.
- Develop and maintain a relationship with the family during home visits, which are made at least monthly throughout the woman's pregnancy and throughout the infant's first year of life.
- Provide basic health education to families on a range of topics including lead poisoning prevention, HIV risk factors and measures to prevent transmission, risk factors associated with prenatal substance abuse (including tobacco), domestic violence, family planning, breastfeeding and other important health topics.
- Ensure parents understand the need for children to receive immunizations and regular health care.
- Help families address such issues as completing high school education, selecting appropriate childcare and handling the multiple demands of work/school and child rearing.
- Work with parents in their homes to improve parent-child interaction and to promote their understanding of normal child development.
- Assist families with application procedures for such services as Medicaid, Child Health Plus and WIC.
- Assist families to develop the necessary skills and resources to improve their health status, family functioning and self-sufficiency.