Santa Rosa, CA – December 9, 2021 – The Sonoma County Department of Health Services today announced that it has received a three-year, $6 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to increase resources and services for community health workers to better respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and combat health care inequities.
Community health workers are front-line public health workers who are trusted members of their community and have a unique understanding of the people they serve. These vital relationships enable community health workers to conduct targeted outreach, providing health education and social support centered on the cultures within the community, while facilitating access to local resources.
“This investment will strengthen the tools that our community health workers need in order to respond to areas disproportionately impacted by the pandemic,” said Tina Rivera, interim director for the Sonoma County Department of Health Services. “CHWs are actively reaching communities that have battled health disparities for too long with messages in their own language — at work sites, schools and community events — to decrease barriers to vaccines and testing, as well as other services critical to public health.”
The three-year initiative will focus on areas of Sonoma County with high rates of COVID-19. Through the grant, community-based organizations, health care providers and other project partners will hire and deploy community health workers. The Department of Health Services will assist with coordinating training and providing organizational assistance.
The grant project is also collaborating with the City College of San Francisco’s CHW program to provide no-cost training, skills development, and academic and technology support to local community health workers, as well as to county residents who aspire to become community health workers.
“Individuals residing in the most affected communities in Sonoma County are strongly encouraged to apply for the new training program, as well as the new community health worker positions resulting from the grant,” said Kim Caldewey, Healthy Communities section manager for the Department of Health Services. “Their perspectives and insights have proven to be particularly beneficial to an effective COVID response.”
To learn more about the initiative, to apply for the two-semester City College of San Francisco program, or to get more information, visit https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/Health/News/CHW-Certificate/