Assessing Community Strengths and Needs
To succeed, a prevention program should be tailored to the strengths and needs of the community it serves. An assessment to identify those strengths and needs can take many forms, such as a compilation of demographic data from census records, results of surveys, and partners' responses to questions about the community they serve. Assessments can be expanded to include focus group discussions, town meetings, interviews with stakeholders, and telephone or mailed surveys to partnership members. An image or chart of community assets will show opportunities for building on strengths of individuals, agencies, and businesses within the community.
Use the following resources to learn more about assessing community strengths and needs, including State and local examples.
Home Visiting Application Process: A Guide for Planning State Needs Assessments (PDF - 1376 KB)
Child Trends (2010)
Provides information to help States plan and conduct needs assessments, identify high-risk populations, and select and measure benchmarks for home visiting programs as established under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.
Healthy Communities - Healthy Youth
This initiative seeks to motivate and equip individuals, organizations, and their leaders to join together in nurturing competent, caring, and responsible children and adolescents.
Assessing Community Needs and Resources
University of Kansas Community Tool Box
Focuses on community assessment for health promotion programs.
Annie E. Casey Foundation, Harvard's Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations, & Rockefeller Foundation
Provides community builders with problem-solving tools and strategies in the form of case studies, best practices, and web links related to community development issues. The website also features discussion forums to foster interactive exchanges of ideas and peer-to-peer learning.
Feedback From the Field: Child Abuse Prevention and Early Intervention Across California (PDF - 3,594 KB)
Marcus, Alderson, & Green (2012)
Discusses an assessment that will assist the California Office of Child Abuse Prevention in implementing Strengthening Families and in supporting counties with the integration of prevention plans into the Outcomes and Accountability System (O&A). The article summarizes the assessment rationale, describes the data collection process, and highlights a few key findings and recommendations.
Partners in Community Outreach In-Home Family Education Program Start-Up Guide
Partners in Community Outreach West Virginia (2009)
Provides information for starting an in-home family education program to reduce adverse childhood experiences in West Virginia by describing in-home family education and the vision and role of the Partners in Community Outreach program and explains strategies for the development of an in-home family education program.
State and local examples
Investing in the Future of L.A.'s Most At-Risk Children: Data on Needs and Resources for Preschool Children Involved With Child Welfare and Probation (PDF - 734 KB)
McCroskey & Nadybal (2007)
Investigates the current and projected number of preschool children in Los Angeles County at risk of child abuse and neglect, and examines the capacity of local communities' child care systems.
The Irreducible Needs of Families in King County (PDF - 2758 KB)
King County Children and Family Commission (2009)
Describes an initiative to identify the essential needs of families with children in King County, Washington, measure how well those needs are being met, and build upon successful programs to meet those needs.