$225 Million in Training Grants Awarded Today; American Rescue Plan Investments for Community Health Workforce Total Over $1.1 Billion
Today, the Biden-Harris Administration is awarding $225 million in American Rescue Plan funds to train over 13,000 Community Health Workers (CHWs). In response to the acute need to expand the health care workforce and address pandemic-related burnout, the American Rescue Plan provided historic investments. Among these investments, President Biden’s American Rescue Plan provided a total of over $1.1 billion for community health, outreach, and health education workers—the largest ever one-time investment in the nation’s community health workforce. These investments are expected to deploy over 40,000 people in community health, outreach, and health education roles over the coming years. This investment will build on the roughly 50,000 CHWs who were already working in American communities before the pandemic.
CHWs are an evidence-based, cost-effective public health workforce to improve population health and strengthen health systems. Particularly for underserved communities, CHWs, as well as outreach and health education workers, serve as trusted messengers and advocates helping to facilitate communication between individuals and health care providers. They also play a key role in addressing pre-existing health inequities that were exacerbated by the pandemic.
President Biden understands the importance of investing in a modern public health workforce, and his Administration continues to deliver on his campaign promise to expand the community health workforce. Although there is more work to do to secure and build upon this progress, the American Rescue Plan strengthened our public health system during the pandemic and is building capacity for the future.
Today’s announcement builds on other critical American Rescue Plan investments in our community health workforce, including:
- Rapid deployment of over 14,000 community outreach workers (including CHWs) through over 150 national and local organizations to deepen COVID-19 vaccine confidence, increase vaccination rates, and serve as trusted messengers in underserved communities. Examples include:
- The Association of Asian/Pacific Community Health Organizations used American Rescue Plan funds to establish the CHW Workforce Collaborative (the Collaborative). The Collaborative has since hired, trained, and deployed more than 250 CHWs who speak over 36 Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander languages in 12 continental U.S. states and Hawaii.
- The Communities RISE Together initiative, supported by WE in the World and the Public Health Institute, is using American Rescue Plan funding to recruit, hire, and train CHWs to work with Black, Native American, Latinx, Asian American/Pacific Islander, immigrant/migrant, and low-income older adult populations in 200+ counties across the country. RISE partners train and engage vaccine ambassadors and promotors to serve as trusted messengers and connect community members with vaccines and well-being needs, while working to address underlying drivers of health inequities.
- Jurisdictions across the country are also utilizing American Rescue Plan State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to create CHW programs tailored to their communities’ needs. Examples include:
- Chicago, IL has hired more than 800 local health workers and provided them with broader healthcare training. This program is building the skills of residents in communities experiencing the greatest economic hardship in the healthcare jobs we need tomorrow, while supporting critical health needs in the community today.
- New York City, NY is building a corps of over 500 CHWs across the city. These individuals will educate New Yorkers on health matters, connecting them to essential healthcare services and enabling them to meet their health goals.
- San Diego County, CA has mobilized over 250 CHWs, who collectively speak 26 languages, to provide tailored outreach and education to residents who have been traditionally hard to reach. They have focused on underserved and under-immunized communities, including Black and African American, Latino, refugee, and Asian and Pacific Islander communities.
- Detroit, MI is investing $15 million in a Community Health Corps to help Detroit residents who are living significantly below the federal poverty line resolve their needs.
- Establishment of a first-of-its-kind Public Health AmeriCorps, a historic partnership between AmeriCorps and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to build and train the next generation of public health leaders. The program will place up to 3,000 AmeriCorps members during its first year, with thousands more expected in the coming years. Examples include:
- Family Scholar House in Kentucky is engaging 200 AmeriCorps members to provide healthcare support and services to seniors and disabled individuals in healthcare facilities across Kentucky.
- DeKalb County in Georgia is engaging 16 AmeriCorps members to provide capacity, support, and increased awareness of COVID-19 testing and vaccination accessibility to support equitable health outcomes and COVID-19 recovery in underserved communities.
- Houston Health Department is engaging 25 full-time AmeriCorps members to provide navigation services and health education in historically underserved and social vulnerability index (SVI) priority zip codes in Houston, Texas. The AmeriCorps members will provide health education and increase access to healthcare and human services.
Investments in community health and outreach workers are part of the American Rescue Plan’s historic investment of over $12 billion in our health workforce—among the largest one-time infusions of resources in history; this figure does not include the billions invested in the workforce for home and community-based services. These investments are helping respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, address long-standing inequities, and build capacity for the future. These investments include:
- Recruiting, training, and supporting health care professionals
- Surging resources to state and local public health departments
- Helping address America’s mental health and substance use crisis
Recruiting, Training, and Supporting Health Care Professionals
The U.S. is experiencing a severe shortage of health care professionals, especially in rural and underserved communities. In 2019, the United States had nearly 20,000 fewer doctors than required to meet the country’s health care need; that gap could grow as high as 124,000 by 2034. Each year through 2031, on average there will be more than 203,000 job openings for registered nurses. Rural regions are particularly impacted by shortages: 20% of Americans live in rural areas but only one-tenth of physicians practice in rural areas. These shortages have been exacerbated by recruitment challenges and provider burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Thanks to American Rescue Plan funding, HRSA nearly quadrupled the number of National Health Service Corps scholarships awarded and nearly doubled the number of Nurse Corps scholarships awarded in 2021. With additional support from ARP, a record 22,700 health care providers – the largest number ever supported – now practice in underserved communities and are treating more than 23 million patients thanks to loan repayment and scholarship payments.
- The American Rescue Plan is addressing the nation’s provider burnout and exhaustion crisis by investing $120 million towards health worker resiliency and training programs.
- The American Rescue Plan is utilizing $330 million to help train more primary care physicians and dentists in high-need areas. This investment more than doubles typical annual appropriations for the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program, which supports primary care residency programs in rural and underserved communities.
Surging Resources to State and Local Public Health Departments
The American public health system has been woefully underfunded; COVID-19 exposed these inadequacies nationwide. By some estimates, state and local public health departments needed to increase their pre-pandemic workforce by 80% to provide a minimum set of public health services.
- The American Rescue Plan provided $2 billion in workforce funding through CDC to add over 8,600 staff to help state and local governments respond to COVID-19. These new staff include school nurses, clinical staff, and epidemiology staff. Jurisdictions were also able to offer training and development opportunities, retain staff, provide competitive salaries, and establish paid internships and fellowships.
- The American Rescue Plan is investing a historic $3 billion to help state, local, and territorial public health departments build resilience against future public health emergencies. This flexible CDC funding will allow jurisdictions, in part, to make long-term investments in their workforce.
Helping Address America’s Mental Health and Substance Use Crisis
Americans are experiencing an unprecedented mental health and substance use crisis, with demand for services far greater than the capacity of the workforce to provide services.
- The American Rescue Plan invested $180 million to bolster capacity for the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. Historically, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline was under-resourced and understaffed, leading to low answer rates and response times. These funds are also supporting the Lifeline’s transition to 988, an easy-to-remember number for individuals to reach the Lifeline and gain 24/7 access to trained counselors who can help people experiencing suicidal, substance use, and other mental health crises.
- The American Rescue Plan invested $100 million to train graduate students to support behavioral health needs among vulnerable populations. This investment supports placements at health centers and other community-based settings where trainees will work in the underserved communities where behavioral health services are most urgently needed.