Community Health Worker Program for Diabetes

Some families that have a child with type 1 diabetes struggle to manage all of the appointments, supplies and communications with their child’s diabetes providers. Families already facing challenges sometimes find themselves overwhelmed when a diabetes diagnosis is added to their lives. These struggles can lead to poor diabetes management and have a negative impact on the child’s overall, long-term health.

To help these families, CHOP created a new role in the Diabetes Center: a community health worker.

What is a community health worker?

A community health worker is a non-medical person who helps families manage the challenging parts of life that go beyond medical matters. The goal is to help families get on track to successfully manage their child’s diabetes and to position children to develop the life-long skills needed to manage their health now and in the future.

Families that qualify are assigned a community health worker who will help the parents and child identify some of the life issues that make it difficult to focus on their diabetes care, create a plan to address these challenges and work toward solutions.

Things a community health worker can help your family tackle are:

  • Arranging transportation to appointments
  • Having enough of the proper supplies on hand
  • Identifying where the family can get healthy food and learning how to prepare nutritious meals for the entire family
  • Making connections with community support services (such as mental or behavioral health providers, if necessary)
  • Working with the child’s school to facilitate care during school hours and for extracurricular activities
  • Ensuring living conditions (housing, utilities, etc.) can support diabetes management
  • Creating better communication between the family and the diabetes team to build a strong relationship
  • Helping families navigate the healthcare system

What a community health worker does NOT do

Community health workers are not trained as doctors, nurses or diabetes educators. While they have a basic understanding of diabetes and its management, they are not a source of medical information and cannot answer specific diabetes management-related and health questions. They can help families connect with someone from the Diabetes Center who will answer specific health-related questions.

How do we get a community health worker?

Your diabetes care team can refer your family for a community health worker. There is limited availability for the program and referrals will be prioritized by those with the highest need.