Friday, 19 November 2021 14:59

UNCP awarded $510K grant to support statewide Community Health Worker Initiative

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Dr. Cindy Locklear Dr. Cindy Locklear

PEMBROKE — UNC Pembroke has been awarded a $510,000 grant in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to expand the state’s Community Health Worker Initiative. 

The funds are part of the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s Community Health Workers for COVID Response and Resilient Communities. 

The COVID-19 CHW program initially supported community health workers in 55 counties to connect North Carolinians with medical and social supports such as food and financial relief, diagnostic testing, behavioral health services and education about vaccines. 

The College of Health Sciences at UNCP serves a vital role in the new state standardized core competency curriculum for community health workers. This spring, NCDHHS committed to expanding the program to all 100 counties. The $9 million in CDC funding will help the state develop a sustainable infrastructure for CHWs that builds on the pandemic response. 

UNCP has been awarded a three-year grant as part of the expansion, according to Dr. Cindy Locklear, assistant professor in the Department of Social Work and principal investigator. 

“This is a unique partnership in that it’s usually R1 universities, and not rural universities, that are selected for this high level of research activity. However, the NCDHHS understands that selecting an HMSI (Historically Minority Serving Institution) was important to them. It is unique in that DHHS, state government, the community college system and this private nonprofit organization of community health workers are all coming together for this project.”  

Locklear added that additional grant funding would allow the university to conduct more research, continue evaluating the new credentialing process, and expand its work with state community colleges to develop core competency training. 

“Community health workers are getting more attention because of COVID. They have done a lot of work in getting more people vaccinated. We hope to continue the momentum as more folks are seeing the value of that role.”