Tip #1: Collect a wide variety of data.
There is a tremendous amount of data available. Check sources such as the Census Bureau, State Data Centers, County Health Departments as well as local school districts and early intervention programs. Surfing the Net, making phone calls and conducting surveys will yield a great deal of essential data. Also remember that you have valuable internal programmatic information – your PIR, wait list and annual report, just to name a few.
Tip #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 trends. These trends will provide you with key information to make critical programmatic decisions. Having current and complete information allows leaders to make strategic decisions regarding the direction of their program.
Tip #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 that summarizes the key information.
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