Just as physicians and nurses work in a wide range of organizations, CHWs are employed by many different nonprofits, health care facilities, government agencies, schools and universities. CHWs may focus on a specific health condition such as asthma, diabetes or HIV/AIDS or on a certain population such as pregnant women, homeless teens or new refugee arrivals.
They may serve as generalists or specialize in a particular function such as community organizing, home visiting or case management. Typically, they meet clients “where they are” to serve them within their scope of practice.
Increasingly, CHWs are employed by:
- Local public health departments for purposes of family home visiting; nutrition education and breast-feeding support; disease-specific outreach and education; healthy homes interventions; and health screenings
- Hospital and clinic systems, as well as community clinics in patient-centered medical homes, to reduce avoidable hospital readmissions and unnecessary ER use
- HeadStart and other early childhood development programs to coach and educate parents on child development and the use of preventive services, such as well child care
- Primary and secondary schools to build stronger relationships with parents and help teach children and teens healthy lifestyles
- Community mental health centers
- Dental offices and oral health programs
- Senior centers
- Faith-based programs
- County human services programs
- Voluntary health associations
- Academic institutions where they carry out community participatory research
- Occupational health and safety departments of businesses that employ workers with limited English proficiency and/or low literacy, as well as unions and their locals whose members experience health-related barriers related to culture, language, literacy, income or trust