Illinois Community Health Worker

logo showing outline of illinois inside palm of a handThis project aims to assess demographic and work-related information about Community Health Workers (CHWs) in Illinois - that are often limited or underreported in the Census, and in the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) survey. We also seek to understand CHWs participation and training in contact tracing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A CHW, as defined by the American Public Health Association and adopted by the state of Illinois, is a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has an unusually close understanding of the community served. This trusting relationship enables the worker to serve as a liaison/link intermediary between health/social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery.

A long-used public health tool, contact tracing aims to break the chain of transmission of infectious diseases, and is an area that CHWs can have a tremendous impact. The CHW model builds individual and community capacity by increasing health knowledge and self-sufficiency through a range of activities such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support, and advocacy.

This project is in partnership with the Illinois Community Health Worker Association and will provide important insights about CHWs in Illinois that can inform Census and IDES survey design, decision makers around Covid-19 pandemic and beyond, funding appropriators, health and educational institutions. Finding from this project can be used to determine funding, resources, services, and products across the state.