The WARF office building, shown across the lake.

Connecting with community in a public health emergency

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Prevention Research Center (UWPRC) worked with partnering organizations to design a community-based approach to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. We worked with community health workers (CHW) to test the design with families and develop a toolkit that can be adapted for other environments and situations. The toolkit provides guidance and suggestions for using and adapting the module and associated training, establishing an action learning community, and creating a resource library with a corresponding menu of topics.

How to use the toolkit   Toolkit contents   More about the project   Share your feedback

“I really liked the resources you had. The website where you could get everything. Being able to go in and get things easily in a click.” – SWCAP Participant

“This was a great opportunity to be part of the change needed to educate the community with evidence-based practices to keep families safe during COVID.” – AABN Participant

For each component of the intervention, we have provided an overview, suggestions for how to implement it, and information to help you customize it for your own needs. You may use the materials in the toolkit to address COVID-19 needs in your community, or you may adapt them for a different situation. We have provided documents for each of these uses, and have suggestions for modifying the materials for other situations.

Toolkit Guide Document (.pdf)

One-Page Toolkit Summary (.pdf)

About this project

In 2020 the UWPRC received a grant to design and pilot test a sophisticated, culturally appropriate strategy to support the rapid scale-up of COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and vaccination. Working in partnership with organizations across the state of Wisconsin that utilize Community Health Workers (CHWs) in their work with community members, we built a three-pronged intervention, including a module for CHWs to incorporate into their everyday work with families, training for this module, and an Action Learning Community where participating CHWs could share with and learn from expert guests and each other. Additionally, the module is supported by a resource library with a menu of topics.

CHWs from two organizations piloted the intervention in spring 2021: WeRISE Black Birth Workers from the African American Breastfeeding Network (AABN) and Early Head Start home visitors from the Southwestern Wisconsin Community Action Program (SWCAP). Our goal was to create a tested strategy that can be scaled up across WI, adapted for other populations, and inform public health strategies nationally. This toolkit provides the elements you will need to implement or to adapt it for other issues in your setting.

Logos of partners in the CHW project

Funding for this project was provided by the UW School of Medicine and Public Health from the Wisconsin Partnership Program through a grant to the UW Institute for Clinical and Translational Research. In addition, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Prevention Research Center is a member of the Prevention Research Centers (PRC) Program. It is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cooperative agreement number 1U48DP006383.

If you are interested in learning more about this project, please contact Janice Valenzuela, the UWPRC Engagement and Translation Specialist, at jrvalenzuela@wisc.edu.