Supporting Community Health Workers, Supporting Communities

Kailani Amine, MHA
Program Manager, WCAAP

On October 1, 2022, WCAAP and Washington State Department of Health (DOH) staff hosted a Community Health Worker (CHW) listening session with Community Health Worker Coalition for Migrants and Refugees (CHWCMR) in Granger, Washington. CHWCMR is a statewide Coalition of Indigenous and Latinx refugees and immigrants whose mission is to increase the capacity and competencies of CHWs and Community Champions to meet the needs of underserved communities.

Over 50 individuals from Central Washington – including mothers, fathers, grandmothers, and children – came to the event and participated in a discussion centered around their experiences as CHWs and community members. Throughout the event, WCAAP and DOH staff humbly listened to, honored, and learned from participants who shared their experiences with each other. It was amazing to see the community come together and show up for each other in different ways to educate WCAAP and DOH. All participants were committed and dedicated to improving the health of their communities and understand that it begins at home with their families.

WCAAP, in partnership with DOH, Seattle Children’s/University of Washington, Hope Sparks, and the Washington State Health Care Authority, is developing a training curriculum for the newly hired Pediatric CHW workforce that will begin in January 2023. Sustainability of the pediatric curriculum will be facilitated by DOH. This listening session provided WCAAP and DOH with information about the greater Yakima community in and around Granger, such as the current needs and challenges, recommendations for support, the emotional stresses CHWs experience as well as their priorities and concerns. 

Major Findings:

  • Many families feel that their child’s doctor isn’t listening to their concerns and seem to brush them off.
  • Families feel that there is not enough time during appointments.
  • If English is not the family’s primary language, it is often difficult to communicate with the clinic team and many times there is not qualified medical interpretation provided for health care.
  • CHWs do not feel valued or appreciated by doctors or the care team.
  • Families would like more tools or resources (e.g. first time parents, what to do with your child if there are no available appointments with pediatrician or family doctor).
  • Communities are resilient, families are resilient. We need to acknowledge the strengths of the community and their ability to survive and thrive.
  • Strengths shared included: having a tight-knit family, social bonds, community interconnectedness, and community-based organizations and faith-based organizations.