IHS Press Release

IHS Seeking Tribal Consultation on Draft Policy to Expand Community Health Aide Program

Date Posted: June 9, 2016

On June 1, 2016, the Indian Health Service (IHS) released a Dear Tribal Leader letter requesting Tribal Consultation on a draft policy statement detailing the planned national expansion of the Community Health Aide Program (CHAP), including the creation of a national certification board.


The national expansion of the CHAP would mean an increase in paraprofessionals and workers providing services for health education, communicable disease control, maternal and child health, dental health, behavioral health, family planning, and environmental health. Community health aide is an encompassing term that includes behavioral health aides, nursing aides, and dental health aides.


The Dental Health Aide Therapist (DHAT) program currently exists in in Alaska, which brings dental education and routine dental services to rural Alaska Native communities. DHATs have provided dental services to over 40,000 Alaska Native people since 2004. Many rural Alaskan Native villages also have Community Health Aides (CHA). CHAs serve as a primary provider for many individuals, providing emergency first aid, patient examinations and follow-ups in conjunction with the treating physician, and carrying out treatment recommendations, education and instruction, and conducting preventive health programs. Behavioral Health Aides (BHA) work within Tribal communities to address behavioral health needs, including substance abuse and mental health problems. BHAs address these needs by serving as counselors, health educators, and advocates.

Comments are due to IHS on Friday, July 29, 2016.


Comments may be submitted to, with the subject IHS Expansion of Community Health Aide Program Draft Policy Statement Consultation.


Mail your comments to:


Alec Thundercloud, M.D.

Director, Office of Clinical and Preventive Service

Indian Health Service

5600 Fishers Lane Mail Stop: 08N34-A

Rockville, MD 20857


ATTN: IHS Expansion of Community Health Aide Program Draft Policy Statement Consultation


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