Healthy families Brooklyn: working with health advocates to develop a health promotion program for residents living in New York City housing authority developments.


Brown N1, Vaughn NA, Lin AJ, Browne R, White M, Smith P.


Decreasing health disparities must increase access to care, improve health education and ease navigating the health care system. Community Health Workers (CHW) take on these tasks in professional and culturally competent manners. The Healthy Families Brooklyn (HFB) Program serves residents in two public housing developments in Brooklyn, NY. Healthy Families Advocates (HFA), a type of CHW, are at the core of HFB. Curriculum development for, training of and services provided by the 10 HFA over 19 months are described. Pre and post knowledge assessments of HFAs are analyzed. Data from HFA surveys regarding training were analyzed using grounded theory methods. HFA served 172 unique clients at 222 visits. Services offered include accessing public benefits, health education, and connection to hospitals. There was a significant increase between pre and post assessment knowledge scores (P < 0.01). Taking temperature, building trust, and communicating care and connection emerged as themes related to interpersonal skills used by the HFA. The HFA are committed to moving clients forward in their health knowledge and behaviors. Themes from the HFA survey closely mirrored the HFA training curriculum. Lessons learned pertaining to training needs, data collection, and supervision are explored. The HFB program is a model way of working in communities in New York City and expansion with faith-based groups and other housing development communities is underway. Engaging communities to improve access, screening, prevention and treatment is paramount to the nation's health and the success of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. CHW's role in this mission is integral. J Community Health. 2011 Oct;36(5):864-73. doi: 10.1007/s10900-011-9388-0. view article