Who Are CHWs?


Community Health Worker (CHW) is an umbrella term and includes community health representatives, promotores, peers, and other workforce members who are essential front-line public health professionals who live and work in challenged communities and populations.

CHWs share life experience, trust, compassion, and cultural value alignment with the communities where they live and serve.

Our values – self-determination, and self-empowerment of our workforce; integrity of character; dignity and respect for every human being; social justice and equity to ensure fair treatment, access, opportunity, and outcomes for all individuals and communities – guide our work. They are north stars we will use to support our members, foster partnerships, advocate nationally, develop strategic objectives, and assess our impact.

Community Health Workers may work in community-based organizations, like neighborhoods, housing, local libraries, and faith-based programs. CHWs also work in large health systems, Federally Qualified Health Centers, Rural Health Centers, public health agencies, and small private practices. Community Health Workers may also be found in organizations focused on addressing unmet needs, like legal services or assisting with agricultural workers.

While CHWs are focused on whole health and social factors that impact health outcomes, they may work in disease-specific programs, like maternal-child health, Sickle Cell, diabetes, or hypertension. 

Community Health Workers:

  • Are experts on overcoming challenges and barriers to living healthier, fuller lives
  • Build trust by being unbiased, non-judgmental, and working with cultural humility
  • Cultural mediation between communities, health care providers, and human service systems
  • Provide culturally appropriate and understandable health education and information
  • Connect people with the services  and resources 
  • Advocate for individual and community needs
  • Often serve as a bridge between community and health care
  • Build individual and community capacity
  • Don't provide Clinical or Personal Care

Community Health Worker Scope of Practice

CHWs can work with multiple types of partners, such as health care practitioners, managed care plans, human service organizations, and community-based organizations. Job duties typically involve three main components: Helping people navigate the health and human services system; providing culturally appropriate health education; and building individual and community capacity. CHWs are expected, to the fullest extent possible, to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate support, guidance, and encouragement for individuals and help them receive needed follow-up care.

CHWs should spend fifty (50) percent or more of their time working with individuals and/or groups in the community. The list below provides a general description of the types of duties a CHW may fulfill and therefore the CHW job description should include some combination of these duties.

This Scope of Work may further be defined by an employer, and, in some instances, CHWs may require additional licensure, credentials, training or certification to focus on a particular specialty issue (i.e. asthma, sickle cell anemia, HIV, maternal-fetal medicine).

Navigate the health and human services system:

  • Coach individuals about how to use the health care and social service systems.
  • Educate the health and social service systems about the needs and perspectives of individuals being served.
  • Facilitate communication between health and social service providers and individuals.
  • Facilitate continuity of care through education, support, and reinforcement.
  • Identify potential enrollees and assist them with applications for programs such as health insurance and public assistance.
  • Inform individuals about and connect them with health and social service resources they may need.
  • Provide feedback on system-related challenges associated with referring individuals to community agencies and providers.

 Provide culturally appropriate health education:

  • Provide culturally appropriate health information to clients, providers, and communities.
  • Educate individuals and communities about disease prevention, health promotion, and infectious disease prevention (e.g. immunizations). Provide information about disease-appropriate resources when necessary to help track and manage chronic conditions, such as monitoring blood glucose levels, BMI as well as appropriate usage of telehealth technology when available and appropriate.
  • Assist individuals with self-management of chronic health conditions and medication adherence.
  • Help individuals set measurable health improvement and self-management goals.
  • Organize and/or facilitate support groups.
  • Facilitate access to preventive services such as health screenings.

 Build individual and community capacity:

  • Articulate and advocate for the needs of individuals and populations in the community.
  • Address/educate community members regarding identified community health needs.
  • Coach individuals regarding advocacy on behalf of themselves and their community.
  • Help build individual and community relationships.
  • When possible, mentor other CHWs to help them benefit from prior experience and build capacity and expertise more efficiently.
  • Identify continuing professional development needs and ways to fulfill them.
  • Identify, articulate, and help resolve, to the fullest extent possible, systemic problems inhibiting access to care.
  • Respecting HIPAA guidelines, report to supervisors, service providers, and/or community partners the plans, activities, and progress.
  • Document all work in a timely manner through the established administrative processes for both the individual clinical practice and the funding agency.
  • Provide social and emotional support to those being served.
  • Gather data from individuals and the community that can be used to inform decision-makers about population health needs and possible ways to address those needs.

[1] According to 20 USCS § 7801(6), the term “community-based organization” means “a public or private nonprofit organization of demonstrated effectiveness that (A) is representative of a community or significant segments of a community; and (B) provides educational or related services to individuals in the community.


South Carolina Community Health Worker Association

Our History & Team

The South Carolina Community Health Worker Association (SCCHWA) was founded in December 2014 in response to Community Health Workers (CHWs) voicing their need to be better trained, better supported, and better heard. In 2017 SCCHWA became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership-driven organization with a mission to support the CHWs workforce across South Carolina as they work to promote health equity and social justice.

Our Objectives & Mission

Align CHW training in South Carolina with nationally established core competencies, including standardizing the experiential learning component of CHW curriculum.

Promote uniform standards and requirements for the training, certification, and continuing education of CHWs and CHW Instructors in South Carolina.

Educate those working in the health and social service sectors about the role, scope of services, evidence of success, and best practices related to CHWs.

Develop and enhance opportunities for building the CHW workforce and its capacity to succeed.

Current Projects

The African American Rural Women In COVID Project

In a collaborative partnership with the CDC, the University of South Carolina School of Public Health through research activities hopes to understand the impact of COVID-19 of African American Women in rural counties across South Carolina.

U of SC Researchers are partnering with SCCHWA to gather information through CHW Community Engaged Researchers (CERs). These are CHWs who have been trained and equipped with community engaged research skills concerning how to appropriately conduct surveys, use of data collection tools and the proper adherence to protocols regarding confidentiality, informed consent, and non-bias research practices with community members, as well as in-depth interviews with community leaders to identify multilevel barriers and facilitators their resilience through mixed methodology. 

CHW CERs are actively engaged in their respective communities documenting authentic responses of rural women of color concerning resilience, lived experiences, barriers to resources for mental and physical healthcare through individual interviews. 

Likewise, CERs will utilize their collective responses for the purpose of developing and reporting on public health practice including strategies to improve health system’s emergency preparedness and response through the multilevel lens of resilience.