Familylinks’ Community Health Worker Program

By: Lauren Galletta, Director of Development & Outreach

Familylinks is one of the Pittsburgh area’s largest, most comprehensive, and most respected human service providers. The agency has served Western Pennsylvania for more than 65 years, bringing vital support services to the most vulnerable members of our community. Familylinks was formed in 2001, through the merger of two organizations: The Whale’s Tale (est. 1970) and Parent & Child Guidance Center (est. 1956). As a result, Familylinks provides a vast array of services for individuals and families in the areas of mental health, substance use, prevention, service coordination, emergency shelter, supportive housing, senior care, and more.

Familylinks’ mission is to positively impact lives through integrated community, behavioral, and social programs. The organization exists to help individuals and families become strong for life. Annually, Familylinks serves more than 9,000 individuals throughout 24 counties across Pennsylvania.

Thanks to the generous support of the Allegheny County Medical Society Foundation, Familylinks’ new Community Health Worker (CHW) program is well positioned to succeed in 2024.

In July of 2023, in partnership with UPMC Health Plan and the Allegheny County Health Department, Familylinks launched a CHW program. The goal of this program is to improve health outcomes for Allegheny County residents who face significant health disparities by increasing their access to critical health information, healthcare services, and community resources related to key social determinants of health (SDOH). Using a person-centered and culturally competent approach, CHWs help clients achieve meaningful improvements in their overall health and well-being, including their ability to live safely and independently in their homes.

The CHW program is being implemented in tandem with two long time Familylinks programs: Options Care Management, which helps adults age 60+ remain as independent as possible, and Supports Coordination, which helps children and adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities and/or autism secure the services they need to be safe, healthy, and successful. In addition to serving clients in these programs, the CHW program can also work with the other members of their household, ensuring the well-being of the entire family.

Familylinks’ Community Health Worker team. (Left to right: Scott Fisher, Ashlee Johnson, Hillary Holes DeFrancesco, Danielle Crump, Regan Clark)

CHWs add value by focusing on key SDOH, providing culturally competent health education, and using an individualized approach to help clients’ close gaps in care. During each client’s intake appointment, CHWs complete an assessment of the client’s current SDOH needs. From this initial assessment, the CHWs work with their clients to help them identify and connect with resources located either within or close to the communities in which they live. CHWs partner with many different organizations in the community to ensure their clients’ needs are met.

During home visits, CHWs identify challenges that too often go unaddressed, such as a need for additional face-to-face education regarding health and safety risks in the home, medication adherence, follow-up medical needs, prevention screenings and services, and general health education.

The goal of the CHW program is to serve at least 200 individuals throughout the first year of the program. As of January 1, the CHW team has assisted 61 individuals with a variety of needs such as housing, transportation to healthcare visits, completing applications, and understanding their health insurance.

This important work would not be possible without our dedicated staff, generous donors, and loyal volunteers. If you would like to get involved by joining our team, donating, or volunteering, please visit or call 866-583-6003.