Ali Goodyear, MPH, Program Manager
WCAAP is nearly five months in to our 9-month Pediatric Community Health Worker (CHW) Learning Collaborative that supports clinics across Washington state as they embed CHWs into their care teams to address the mental health, early relational health, and health-related social needs of children and families. Thirty clinics across the state received the Health Care Authority’s (HCA) Community Health Worker Grant that began in January 2023. Since September, WCAAP has supported 11 of these clinics through participation in our Learning Collaborative focused on improving CHW role clarity and team integration. Participating clinics receive technical assistance and coaching to implement strategies to improve in these areas, regular data about their site’s progress, and a peer learning space where clinics can address challenges and share resources and lessons learned.
Since the launch of the Learning Collaborative, participating CHWs have reported substantial improvements in role acceptance and team integration at their clinics, as well as smaller improvements in job satisfaction and workload. Over the next several months, WCAAP will continue supporting clinics in their ability to promote team-based care and ensure CHWs are elevated on their care teams. As part of the Learning Collaborative, WCAAP also provides monthly opportunities for all pediatric CHWs across the state to come together for collaboration and peer learning on topics such as strengths-based practice, trauma-informed care, confidentiality, and supporting patients with developmental disabilities. Across all Learning Collaborative engagement opportunities, participants have shared that they value having a space to collaborate, network, and learn from one another.
During the first year of the HCA’s CHW grant, clinics have already seen the tremendous impact of incorporating CHWs into their teams. As one clinic shared, “Having CHWs in our clinic has added so much to patient care and access to services in the community.” CHWs are assisting families with critical needs related to housing, basic necessities (diapers, clothing), food assistance, mental health, and transportation. Outcomes of the first year of HCA’s CHW grant program are further described in their legislative report, which highlights the impacts that CHWs are having on improving patient and family retention and engagement, provider understanding of culturally-tailored care, team workload, and trust-building with families. One of WCAAP’s priorities during this state legislative session is to help sustain these outcomes by advocating for an additional two years of grant funding for the pediatric CHW workforce while also establishing sustainable funding for care coordination by increasing screening reimbursement.