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Health Worker Training Program Launched for Formerly Incarcerated Brooklynites

The program offers individuals with a history in the criminal system employment opportunities in the midst of healthcare worker shortage.
Attendees of the first-ever Community Health Worker program. Photo: Provided/Brooklyn Communities Collaborative.

The Brooklyn Communities Collaborative held the first training session for its inaugural Community Health Worker program for formerly incarcerated individuals. The cohort of 20 trainees will complete a full certification program in addition to receiving skills training, mentorship and job placement opportunities. 

“Community health workers are trusted advocates for health and wellbeing in their own communities,” said Shari Suchoff, BCC executive director. “We’ve found that community health workers often go on to other critical health care positions, building upon their experiences and skills acquired in the field. By providing the training, skills, and certification needed to take on community health positions, we are empowering these individuals to improve health outcomes for years to come.” 

Trained community health workers go on to roles as peers, care navigators and case managers. CHWs bridge the gap between providers and patients by working directly in their communities. This helps build trust, provide mentorship and care coordination, and help to reduce poor health outcomes. These roles are particularly impactful in underserved communities, where trust in the healthcare system is often lower and barriers to accessing care are higher.

BCC has partnered with Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, an organization committed to racial equity and closing the Black wealth gap in Central Brooklyn, to conduct recruitment and placement support. They have also partnered with Kingsborough Community College to provide training. In addition to the cost of certification, each participant receives a MetroCard and $1,000 stipend to support cost of living needs during the program. Those who complete the training will also receive placement opportunities, support services and resume-building assistance.

"A training program for formerly incarcerated individuals in Brooklyn serves not only the individuals but also provides a pathway to positive reintegration, reducing the chances of re-offense," said Blondel A. Pinnock, President and CEO, Bed-Stuy Restoration Corporation. "By giving individuals the skills and tools they need to secure gainful employment, they can foster a sense of responsibility, decision-making skills, and a commitment to a more positive future. As a result, a more inclusive and productive community."

Topics covered in the program include essential skills training, introduction to care management, practical counseling skills, art of person-centered documentation, non-coercive approaches to conflict management, foundations of motivational interviewing, understanding special needs, and reducing job related stress.

“Kingsborough Community College is proud to partner with Brooklyn Communities Collaborative to create jobs and fill much needed health care roles,” said Dr. Simone Rodriguez, Vice President, Workforce Development, Continuing Education and Strategic Partnerships. “We are excited to be a part of training and fostering dedicated health care professionals who are from the community, know the community, and will be working in the community right here in Brooklyn.”