The New Mexico Community Health Worker Association (NMCHWA) has received several mini-grants to provide training for community health workers (CHWs) through the University of New Mexico 's Health Sciences Center .

Altogether, the association has received $8,500 to facilitate the training utilizing a manual entitled, "Reaching Out…" Funds came from the McCune Foundation, The New Mexico Chapter of the March of Dimes, the New Mexico Public Health Association and Clothes Helping Kids.

The "Reaching Out" training has an emphasis on maternal and child health and involves at least 40 hours of training. It addresses communication skills, community resources, prenatal care, breast feeding and nutrition, labor and deliver, postpartum care, substance use/fetal alcohol syndrome, domestic violence, sexuality, family planning and STDs, and early childhood development

The funding is for training CHWs in the central and northern part of New Mexico . Sylvia Sapien with La Clinica de Familia Medical Center is currently offering this training for CHWs in southern New Mexico .

Eliminating health disparities is a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services priority. In the department'sHealthy People 2010Report, it was noted that disadvantaged populations, especially racial and ethnic minority groups, are at greater risk for poor health yet experience numerous obstacles in accessing health care.

NMCHWA's mission is to collectively improve access and quality health care for New Mexicans through advocating and empowering its member community health workers.

Community health workers have a solid history of effectively providing outreach to a population noted for its lack of economic resources, low educational attainment, limited English proficiency and diverse cultural beliefs. CHWs are primarily minority women and can be a critical component in impacting access to health and social services, and patient knowledge.

CHWs completing the training will receive a Certificate of Completion from the UNM Health Sciences Center at the NMCHWA Annual Conference October 25-27 in Albuquerque .

For more information or participation in the classes, contact B.J. Ciesielski UNMH Maternity & Family Planning Program (505) 272-4741 Bciesielski@salud.unm.edu or the NMCHWA Office at (505) 255-1227 ornmchwa@yahoo.com.