A community needs assessment identifies the strengths and resources available in the community to meet the needs of children, youth, and families. The assessment focuses on the capabilities of the community, including its citizens, agencies, and organizations. It provides a framework for developing and identifying services and solutions and building communities that support and nurture children and families.
A community assessment may be limited to a compilation of demographic data from census records, results of surveys conducted by others, and informal feedback from community partners. Or, assessments may be expanded to include focus group discussions, town meetings, interviews with stakeholders, and telephone or mailed surveys to partnership members and the community.
Assessing Community Needs and Resources
University of Kansas Community Tool Box
Focuses on community assessment for health promotion programs.
Beyond Risk: Improving Assessments to Keep People Safer (MS Word - 135 KB)
Kinney, Vaughn, & Strand (2000)
Encourages child welfare agencies to consult community members when identifying strengths and needs of neighborhoods and families. Includes brief screening measures.
Building Communities From the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community's Assets
Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University (1993)
A step-by-step introduction to a coherent strategy gleaned from neighborhood leaders.
Community Stakeholder Involvement in the Child and Family Services Review: Opportunities, Challenges, Recommendations
Protecting Children, 17(2), 2002
Discusses how to involve community stakeholders in the Child and Family Services Review process, to develop a culture of shared responsibility for child outcomes and increase community awareness of program improvement activities.
A Developmental Approach to Child Welfare Services for Infants, Toddlers, and Their Families: A Self-Assessment Tool for States and Counties Administering Child Welfare Services (PDF - 491 KB)
ZERO TO THREE (2012)
Helps States and counties assess how child welfare policies and practices address the developmental needs of infants, toddlers, and their families; identifies how policies and practices can be improved; and engages partners in taking action.
Early Childhood Needs and Resources Community Assessment Tool (PDF - 56 KB)
National League of Cities
Designed to help city officials and other community leaders gain a better understanding of how young children and their families are faring and where assistance is needed.
Guide to Evaluating Asset-Based Community Development: Lessons, Challenges, and Opportunities
Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University (1997)
Written primarily for community-building practitioners from the point of view of an experienced evaluator, this guide is also for funders and others who would like to be helpful to community builders.
Measuring Strengths in Community Collaboratives (PDF - 343 KB)
National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice
Prevention Report, 2004
Discusses the advantages of using social network analysis (SNA) to measure strengths in community collaboration.
New Approaches to Evaluating Community Initiatives: Concepts, Methods, and Contexts
Connell, Kubisch, Schorr, & Weiss (Eds.) (1995)
Methods and issues in evaluating comprehensive community initiatives, community development programs that promote positive change in individual, family, and community circumstances in disadvantaged neighborhoods by improving physical, economic, and social conditions.