Skip to main content

RCORP - Rural Center of Excellence on SUD Prevention

Community Health Workers: Recruitment & Retention

A Community Health Worker (CHW) with lived experience of incarceration is well-suited to engage in the community, connect with and enroll patients, coordinate care, and support patients during their transition from incarceration. (See a sample job description in the toolkit for this practice.)

The Transitions Clinic Network (TCN) provides on-the-job training for CHWs. They do not need to have formal training or certification to apply. However, CHWs may have had prior peer recovery coach or CHW training that work well for rural CHWs by virtue of being remote and flexible, while maintaining high standards.

Return to learn page




  • Reach out to community organizations (e.g., re-entry task force, housing programs, job retraining programs, faith-based organizations, domestic violence agencies) that serve formerly incarcerated individuals.
  • Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs)
  • Recovery community centers, libraries, friend networks, word of mouth
  • Employment agencies and ads are an option, but recruitment through networking in the above settings is recommended.
  • Radio ads, local podcasts, social media platforms


  • Regular meetings between CHW and primary care provider, including conversations about managing challenging situations and effective collaboration within the rural community
  • All-staff team meetings at the clinic, with emphasis on promoting patients’ well being
  • On-the-job training administered by TCN, leading to a certificate
  • Frequent online professional development through TCN; opportunities to conveniently connect with other CHWs
  • Benefit plans, merit-based pay increases, employee recognition programs
  • Tips on promoting staff wellness


  • Compensation should provide a living wage and include health and retirement benefits. The TCN program should take lived experience into account in calculating salaries.
  • Having a car may be a requirement for the position. The program can consider purchasing or leasing a vehicle for the CHW to use in transporting patients or paying a mileage rate to the CHW.