Florida’s Community Health Worker Certification Program

PSE Change Real-World Example - Step 1: Engage
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Problem: While a number of agencies across Florida (community health centers, research institutions, rural and urban community-based organizations) employ Community Health Workers (CHWs), there had not been a focused, statewide, multi-agency effort to promote the valuable work of CHWs. 

PSE Change Solution: The Florida Department of Health engaged community and health service organizations statewide in a collaborative effort to promote the work of CHWs. A task force created to explore relevant research became the Florida Community Health Worker Coalition. One result of these efforts was the creation of a statewide CHW certification program. 

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While a number of agencies across Florida (community health centers, research institutions, rural and urban community-based organizations) employ Community Health Workers (CHWs), there had not been a focused, statewide, multi-agency effort to promote the valuable work of CHWs. 

PSE Solution 

Establish a collaborative mechanism for developing and promoting the work of CHWs. Create a viable marketplace for CHWs. 


The Florida Department of Health invited leaders from a varied group of community and health service entities and established partnerships with organizations across the state. Their process included the following: 

  1. They created a task force to explore current research on CHWs.
  2. The task force also gathered models, curricula and best practices to create a viable marketplace for CHWs and to explore a statewide certification/training program.
  3. The task force became the Florida CHW Coalition with several sub-groups including networking/sustainability, curriculum, policy, research and practice. 

Success Factors and Key Questions Addressed 

Which stakeholders needed to be included in your efforts and how did you assemble them? 

The Florida Department of Health engaged and convened multiple agencies in the effort from concept to implementation. These included stakeholders from various sectors, including community-based health organizations, federally qualified health centers and community health centers, and community colleges and universities across the state. The partners developed a CHW task force, which grew into the Florida CHW Coalition, now its own tax-exempt organization, with over 700 members. 

How did the missions of diverse stakeholders align for the purpose of the PSE change effort? 

By engaging multiple agencies, the initiative became a multi-agency priority. In addition, the goals of the PSE change aligned with the Governor-appointed Cancer Control and Research Advisory Council’s Goal II of the Florida Cancer Plan 2010, addressing access to appropriate health information and effective health services for timely detection, diagnosis and treatment. 

What resources (tangible and intangible) were needed that stakeholders could provide? 

Stakeholders were organized into multiple subgroups to provide resources for networking/sustainability, curriculum development, policy, research and practice. Engaging stakeholders with a variety of skills strengthened the PSE change efforts. Despite the high number of practicing CHWs in Florida, stakeholders recognized that no avenue existed for state-recognized certification for the CHWs currently at work in Florida (Miller, Bates, & Katzen, 2014). 

The Curriculum work group assessed available data (Step 3: Assess) to establish core elements of a CHW training curriculum and polled the membership to gain agreement. The networking/sustainability and policy work groups focused on promoting (Step 5: Promote) the statewide coalition and recognizing CHWs through branding and educating elected officials about CHWs.  A statewide certification program is now in place (Step 6: Implement), with over 600 CHWs having earned certification. The Research and Practice work groups conduct program evaluation (Step 7: Evaluate) through continuous outcomes data collection, creating outcome measures and using practice-based input from CHWs. 

Related Resources 

Visit the Florida CHW Coalition website at www.FloridaCHW.org or go to the Florida Department of Health website to learn more about this effort. 


Miller, P., Bates, T., & Katzen, A. (2014). Community Health Worker Credentialing. Retrieved from Center for Health Law & Policy Innovation Website: http://www.chlpi.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/CHW-Credentialing-Paper.pdf

Resources to Support Similar Evidence-Based Initiatives  

What Works for Health: Community Health Workers  

The Community Guide: Community Health Workers

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