A Full Community Assessment: Your Essential Planning Document

A full Community Assessment will provide you with all of the data that you need to make critical programmatic decisions.  Examples of these programmatic decisions are:

  • Determining recruitment areas and selection criteria;
  • Selecting program options;
  • Determining the type of content area services that are most needed;
  • Creating long-range and short-range program goals and objectives;
  • Determining available community resources to support family stability.

Consider the following when creating your program’s Community Assessment.

  1. Collect a wide variety of data. There is a wealth of data available. Externally, there is the Census Bureau, State and County Departments of Health, American Community Survey, Kids Count Data Center, American FactFinder, State Data Centers, United Way as well as local school districts and early intervention programs, just to name a few.  Internally, there is your PIR, Annual Report, wait list and list of community partners. Surfing the Net, making phone calls and conducting surveys of your parents, staff, Policy Council, Board of Directors and community partners will yield a great deal of valuable data.

  2. Look for trends. When you are collecting current data, also gather information from recent years. This will give you an opportunity to compare data. By aggregating and analyzing the information, you will be able to identify key findings and trends. This will provide you with the information that you need to make critical programmatic decisions.

  3. Create a user-friendly format. Be sure that your community assessment is a document that is easy to read. It should also be user-friendly so that you can find needed information quickly. Include a combination of graphs and charts as well as text. With each graph, add a “Key Finding” that describes the data. After each major section, include a “Highlights and Considerations” section tht summarizes the key information. This will allow you to reference your Community Assessment frequently throughout the year. 

We create Full Community Assessments that include all of the required items in the Head Start Program Performance Standards as well as any additional data that you request. If you need help creating a Community Assessment, give us a call at (713) 594-7060 or email us at deborahkaiser@hsessentials.com to discuss your needs.