What's Happening at MACHW?
November 16, 2016
As the Board of Certification of CHWs continues to work on drafting both the individual CHW and training program applications, the last month deserves special attention. Specifically, the draft policy which includes the language ‘Suitability for Certification’ will be used to satisfy the term “good moral character” and was approved after an at length discussion outlining criteria for mitigation and convictions. As a result, significant reorganization of online and paper applications are necessary. CHW input will be key as we finalize and field test applications and discuss the effectiveness of the new design.
November 16, 2016
MACHW is thrilled to have been able to experience APHA 2016 144th Annual Conference in Denver last month! This year, the APHA CHW Section introduced so many new ideas to hundreds of public health professionals who come together to share resources and strategies. The CHW workforce as a major public health discipline was one the audience won’t soon forget. We're hoping the presentation of the Massachusetts CHW Code of Ethics made an impact on the other public health professionals involved with supporting and sustaining the CHW workforce, both at the policy and program levels, and that CHWs can continue to inspire those around us with the work that we do every day.
October 6, 2016
After four years, let’s look back at the road we’ve traveled: The Board of Certification of CHWs is back at work, approving draft regulations in January and noting two newly appointed seats filled this year. Achieving quorum has improved, and regular meetings have increased, allowing for rich discussions to happen regarding several important aspects of Certification: the ‘Suitability for Certification’ policy, the individual application, and the training program application.
One of the components of Certification which was the source of extensive research and discussion was the issue of whether CHWs, like other health professions which are credentialed in Massachusetts, should undergo a criminal background check or CORI. MACHW took an active role in advocating that a CORI/criminal background history is observed to be a positive factor for CHWs’ credibility and ease in relating to clients (people of color, shared-experiences with at-risk youth, gang members, etc.) when entering communities. Most of the Board members are in favor of the draft policy which includes the language ‘Suitability for Certification’ that will be used to satisfy the term “good moral character” in the law. The Board also considers recommendations for fairer practices regarding the consideration of CORI results. The year-long fact-finding process regarding CORI is increasingly powering the Board and its members with expert-informed research and CHW input. Both the National Employment Law Project (NELP) and the Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) provided testimony to the Board. In a state in which received an opaque score by NELP’s Model State Law (Rodriguez & Avery, 2016), has since been acknowledged by Pauline Quirion of GBLS as “having done amazingly well” in creating a Certification design responsive to CHWs with CORI backgrounds who fear facing the racial injustices bestowed upon by state Certification – thus, opting out of applying. That’s progress.
The best part? We’re not done yet.
October 6, 2016
As you know, last month concluded the last opportunity for CHW advocates throughout the country to submit comments regarding the federal definition of a CHW for the next several years. Many of us, including CHWs, MACHW members, and CHW supporters, took time to write comments to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) requesting revisions be made to the currently proposed changes in the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) #21- 1094: Community Health Workers (CHWs). We want to thank you all personally for your offer to help in the American Public Health Association (APHA) CHW Section’s campaign to amend the U.S. DOL definition with a revision that more holistically describes the work that CHWs do. In a short turn-around time, the results were outstanding! In fact, if everyone were to commit themselves with the same level of enthusiasm as you have, we would certainly have the goal of changing the federal definition in no time at all.
September 1, 2016
MACHW is pleased to announce Lissette Blondet’s, MACHW Director, appointment to the Massachusetts Public Health Council, the body that advises DPH on major policy decisions. Considering Lissette’s reputation for excellence in anchoring CHWs as public health professionals, MACHW is proud to be a part of such establishment.
Lorenza Holt, MACHW Advisory Board member (former Chair, MACHW Board of Directors) brings years of experience in CHW workforce development to her new appointment with the Prevention & Wellness Advisory Board (PWAB) at DPH. As part of Section 60 and 276 of Chapter 224, PWAB is responsible for making recommendations to the Commissioner of Public Health on administration and allocation of the Prevention and Wellness Trust, establishing evaluation criteria, and advising DPH on its annual report to the legislature on its strategy for administration and allocation of the fund.
With the financial support of a unanimous donor, MACHW was able to send two CHWs to Unity Conference 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia this past July. Rainelle Walker-White from the Harvard Medical School's Mobile Family Van (right), and Jaime Berberena from the City of New Bedford Health Department's Southeastern Health Initiative for Transformation (left), are both new members of MACHW’s Advisory Board. They both represented MACHW well and we anticipate the challenge of fostering their leadership skills for the field’s continued success.
Congratulations to all and thank you for being a part of our team!
Missed the Unity Conference in Atlanta? Read Jaime and Rainelle's updates HERE!
September 1, 2016
Members of the Board of Certification of CHWs have been working hard to develop policy guidelines for certifying individual CHWs and CHW training programs. Last month alone, deliberations included the multi-faceted process that will determine an applicant’s suitability for certification, e.g. compliance with MA CHW Code of Ethics, understanding the CHW Professional Standards of Conduct, and an assessment policy on background check/CORI. In addition, the Board’s new Executive Director, Roberlyne Cherfils, was announced, Erica Guimaraes was newly hired by the Office of CHWs at DPH, and Steve Bucchianeri was appointed to fulfill the seat of the Massachusetts Association of Health Plan Representatives.
But amidst staff changes, new appointments, and a visit from Dr. Monica Bharel, Commissioner of Public Health, Board members believe that CORI is a positive and consider MACHW’s employer waiver/affidavit useful. However, others are confused and struggle with how to safeguard against legal issues (employers not being able to disclose information on CORI from their employees) and the technicalities this process can pose on the Division of Health Professions Licensure Department.
While voting on some of these matters is expected to take place during next month’s meeting, the Board’s overall consensus was observed to not wanting to take away from anyone (issuance of Certification to CHWs with CORIs) and understood that everyone deserves a second chance. As Henrique Schmidt (MACHW seat holder) stated, “there is absolutely no question about that!”
August 29, 2016
MACHW partners with the Clinical-Community Linkages CoP in MassHealth Health recommendations and remaining model development. MACHW’s earlier participation in 3 MassHealth workgroups acknowledged a fantastic platform to educate MassHealth leadership and workgroup members about CHW best practices. MassHealth has explicitly included CHWs as part of their flexible spending options for ACOs.
July 12, 2016
With provisional state approval process for established CHW training on its way, it came as no surprise to MACHW that this work was exemplary. MACHW was so happy to share in the excitement of their graduation day, and so very proud of all, too! This is certainly a momentous occasion worthy of celebration. Only the few truly dedicated individuals are able to complete this rigorous training and serve their clients and families in the community. Your commitment to expand your professional knowledge base and competencies through education is to be commended, and you are an inspiration to the field!
MACHW also thanks CHEC-Boston, CHEC-Lowell, and the Center for Health Impact in Worcester for working so hard to get the training programs out on time. They all did an amazing job and deserve the highest praise. They are amongst the few training programs throughout the state offering core competency training. With such a widely recognized reputation for sharp talent, they have what it takes to meet with continued success on the CHWs’ career paths. Keep up the good work!
Many thanks to Durrell Fox, co-founder of MACHW and keynote speaker at CHEC-Lowell’s graduation ceremony, in which he spoke about the history of the workforce, and how his experiences and personal life correlated to his many advocacy efforts. The points Durrell touched upon, e.g. keeping those “compromisos”, advocating on the redesign of MassHealth contracts, or learning about national projects like that of the C3 Project, reminded us of the importance in continuing to bring about awareness of the role of CHWs in the changing face of the health care reform and the development of statewide Certification. There is no doubt that we will all be speaking of your recent achievements for some time to come and that the effects of your accomplishments make a difference in the community and the field.
Please accept our best wishes and success in strengthening the professional development of the CHW workforce!
July 12, 2016
CHW TESTIMONY INSPIRED THE MA BOARD OF CERTIFICATION OF CHWS TO FOSTER A LEVELED-PLAYING FIELD WHEN IT COMES TO CORI ON APPLICATION FOR CERTIFICATION
In the ebb and flow of establishing clear and easily enforceable protections against CORI limitations for CHWs with convictions and records of arrest, the last Board meeting deserved special mention and understanding. Notably, the National Employment Law Project's (NELP) presentation highlighted that a few of the Massachusetts’ laws already formulate fairer practices of occupational licensing/certification reform. Examples include adherence to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requirements, and the newly proposed removal of automatic blanket bans on the Board’s policy for Suitability for Certification. However, the Board must use care in its recommendations to ensure further requirements will not create significant barriers in the Certification process as this continues to unfold. We discussed that the absence of procedural safeguards, guidelines, or limits on discretion, can function as a blanket ban in itself.
June 7, 2016
Congratulations to 2016 CHW of the Year Award Winner Troix Bettencourt!
MACHW’s CHW of the Year award was announced at the 7th Annual Patient Navigator/Community Health Worker Conference on May 12. Troix Bettencourt, has worked for the Institute for Health and Recovery (IHR) for eight years as Senior Case Manager for Project Housing, Engagement, and Assistance in Lowell (HEAL), a Shelter Plus Care program, and more recently with IHR’s Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program, also in Lowell. In this capacity, Troix provides supportive case management, which includes assisting HIV positive clients with housing, as well as addressing their medical needs, and facilitating client access to vocational and social opportunities. He also possesses a long history of selfless dedication to the health and well-being of disadvantaged members of the community.
As a thoughtful and fearless leader, who has set high standards of excellence, we were proud to present him with this award as appreciation from us all.
June 7, 2016
Strength-Based Meeting Inspires Both Community and Clinically-Based CHWs to Address Barriers and Challenges in Their Scope of Practice In Order to Sustain PWTF’s Mission
Reducing health care costs by preventing chronic conditions is an ambitious goal, as it involves bringing together a wide range of partnerships from across the state and CHWs from diverse fields. But it is a goal that is achievable, according to DPH staff at MACHW’s PWTF CHW Support Session, who called on CHWs not to lose sight of the benefits that including CHW voices into PWTF sustainability plans can bring to their communities.
During this one-day event, over half of the 72 CHWs across the eight reporting partnerships (Holyoke data missing) who came together at picturesque Tower Hill Botanic Gardens in Boylston, were empowered to discuss barriers and challenges in the realm of PWFT’s CHW Guiding Principles – in their everyday public health work.
June 7, 2016
Board of Certification Considers 'Banning the Box'
On May 10 HUGE progress was made with the certification issue in Massachusetts in which the Board of Certification of CHWs at the Division of Health Professions Licensure at M-DPH considers ‘banning the box’ and conducting a criminal background check (CORI) as the last piece of the application process and only completed after the applicant meets all other criteria for Certification. The following is an excerpt of the proposed language as part of the draft regulations:
In assessing the CORI, the Board will continue only convictions and matters ‘Continued Without a Finding’ (CWOFs). The Board will not see or consider arrests, juvenile offenses, or sealed items. All findings will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. There will be no blanket exclusions. CORI will not be viewed as a proxy for untrustworthiness or immorality nor will it be considered a sing of character deficiencies. CORI will be used to assess suitability for certification.