For the past five years, the Community Health Worker Program at NKCDC has trained long-standing residents in Kensington to become Pennsylvania State Certified Community Health Workers (CHWs). As a PA Department of Human Services funded workforce development project, the program jointly works to address social and environmental factors leading to poor health while providing professional opportunities for residents that equip them to advance in health-related careers.
On Tuesday, NKCDC joined the PA CHW Collaborative at the State Capitol in Harrisburg to rally for support from state representatives and senators in securing sustainable funding for CHW programs throughout Pennsylvania. After five years of program funding, which has allowed us to train 58 community members and improve workforce development opportunities for Kensington residents, it’s uncertain whether the CHW program will continue at NKCDC.
CHWs Work to Build Connections and Improve Health Outcomes
The Community Health Worker program encompasses the entire community here in Kensington.
Accepted residents enter training with a lived understanding of the experiences that other community members go through, positioning them as trusted partners and community advocates. They go door-to-door connecting residents with critical resources and assisting them in navigating complex social services and healthcare systems. These relationships build community capacity and empower residents to advocate for themselves and for their community’s health.
Our Workforce Development Program Manager, Lizette Lewis, emphasized in her speech at the rally in Harrisburg that personal stories are at the center of the Community Health Worker Program. “Community members have been doing this work for years without recognition or pay,” Lizette said, “because they love where they live and want to see their communities thrive.”
In Kensington, we rank last of 46 Philadelphia neighborhoods in health factors and health outcomes. Structural forces have created barriers for residents to achieve stable housing, access nutritious food, create social connections, and reach financial stability. But our Community Health Worker program is a reminder that we’re a community of strengths and that solutions to complex problems happen when made in partnership with those most impacted by the outcomes.
In five years, CHWs have supported thousands of residents. With extended funding, we could support thousands more.
Improving community health is our collective responsibility. Here’s how you can help!
1. Stay connected and raise awareness about the importance of CHWs.
2. Call or email your state representatives!
Tell your state representatives and senators that HEZ Funding for North Philadelphia communities is critical!
Copy and paste the following template to email your state representatives and senators:
My name is [NAME]. I’m a constituent living in [CITY, STATE, ZIP CODE]. I’m emailing to ask [STATE REPRESENTATIVE/SENATOR] to support Pennsylvania Department of Human Services extended funding of the Health Enterprise Zone Grant for Community Health Worker Programs in North Philadelphia zip codes.
HEZ Grant Funded CHW programs enable community organizations to build capacity to meet health needs in communities with poor health outcomes and health factors. Community Health Workers are trusted members of their community and possess lived experiences that allow them to effectively serve as intermediaries between health/social services and community members.
As a project that jointly serves to improve workforce development opportunities and health outcomes in communities with social and economic disparities, the HEZ Grant is an investment in long-term community health and wellness. Further funding would allow community organizations to continue to improve health outcomes, reduce hospitalizations, reduce emergency care use, reduce health care spending, and provide employment opportunities to residents.
I kindly urge you to support the continuation of HEZ Grant Funding for North Philadelphia communities to help address health inequities, control health care costs, and improve health outcomes.
Philadelphia State Senator Contacts:
Nikil Saval, 1st (717) 787-5662 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Christine Tartaglione, 2nd (717) 787-1141 | email@example.com
Sharif Street, 3rd (717) 787-6735 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Art Haywood, 4th (717) 787-1427 | email@example.com
Jimmy Dillon, 5th (717) 787-9608 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Vincent Hughes, 7th (717) 787-7112 | email@example.com
Anthony Williams, 8th (717) 787-5970 | firstname.lastname@example.org