In 2000, a committed group of community health workers (CHWs) and allies joined forces to create the first CHW professional association in the country.
For two decades, MACHW has championed the systemic integration of CHWs into all aspects of health, behavioral health and substance recovery services. It has raised awareness of the social determinants of health and highlighted the specific needs and strengths of multicultural communities. It has advocated for strengthened integration between medical, behavioral and addiction recovery services, as well as between clinical and community-based services more broadly.
Our story has not been linear. It required us to learn about policy, finances, organizational development and more. We have struggled against the biases that shape a profession comprised largely of working people-of-color. The constant source of our strength is the active engagement of our members in shaping our priorities and in serving in leadership positions, alongside committed staff.
With the support of many organizations, foundations, providers and legislators, the Massachusetts Association of Community Health Workers (MACHW) continues to transform healthcare in Massachusetts into a system of care that integrates behavioral and physical health, addresses the social determinants of health and ensures equal access to all its citizens.
MACHW shaped the MA Health Care Reform law, ensuring that it highlighted the importance of CHWs and the need to strengthen the development of the CHW workforce through investment in training, certification, financing mechanisms and state infrastructure.
MACHW succeeded in passing landmark legislation creating a pathway for voluntary certification of MA community health workers. (We also succeeded in preventing a certification requirement that would have posed as a barrier for new community health workers entering the field.)
MACHW worked with the Department of Public Health to formally adopt core competencies for community health workers, one of the first states in the nation to do so. MACHW continues to maintain the MA Community Health Worker Code of Ethics.
2016: MACHW has been a leading advocate for greater attention to social determinants of health and healthcare disparities as part of healthcare transformation to a system of Accountable Care Organizations.
Today, our members are busy…
- developing regional chapters dedicated to continued professional development
- advocating for standardized living wages and career pathways for CHWs
- integrating community health workers into health care teams across the service delivery system
- advocating for professional certification standards and parameters
- pressing for long term sustainability of the CHW workforce among policymakers