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Background on Certification

The 2006 Massachusetts health reform law (Chapter 58), Section 110, requested that Department of Public Health convene a statewide CHW advisory council to investigate the CHW workforce and report out recommendations. There was cross-sector support for their recommendation to create a certification process for CHWs. MACHW held statewide forums to hear from CHWs about certification, and in partnership with experts at the DPH, wrote the legislation to establish the Board of Certification of Community Health Workers.

Chapter 322, Acts of 2010, An Act Establishing a Board of Certification of Community Health Workers,” was signed into law to take effect in 2012. The law calls for voluntary certification, rather than mandatory licensure. The goal is to create a competency-based process that recognizes and strengthens the work of CHWs and avoids barriers for effective CHWs to get certified. The Board also has the authority to approve core CHW training programs.

How long is the CHW Certification valid for? How do I renew it?

Certification is valid for 2 years.  In order to renew certification, the Certified CHW must complete 15 hours of qualified continuing education activities (approved by the Board).

The Board has not yet approved the criteria for continuing education activities nor developed criteria for the organizations that could provide the contact hours.  Once approved, the list of continuing education providers will be maintained and published by the Board.

What are the Standards of Conduct for Certified CHWs?

Any health professional in Massachusetts who obtains a license or certification through the Bureau of Health Professions Licensure, must agree to behave according to the Standards of Conduct. The Standard of Conduct for Certified CHWs outlines the boundaries of the CHW relationship with employers, clients, and community members.  When you sign the application, you are agreeing to behave according to these standards if you become a Certified CHW. Once you are granted certification, failure to adhere to these standards could result in the Board revoking your certification.

What is the Massachusetts Code of Ethics for Community Health Workers?

Core Competency #10 (see above) includes practicing in compliance the Massachusetts Code of Ethics for Community Health Workers. This document provides an ethical framework for CHWs to guide day-to-day decision making. It applies to all CHWs in Massachusetts. MACHW last updated the Code of Ethics in 2016 and welcomes feedback to ensure it stays relevant to the current issues CHWs face.