Community Needs Assessment techniques identify and prioritize specific problems within communities that need to be addressed. This generally entails the collection of first-hand information from relevant sources in the local community.
Community needs assessments involve value-based judgments regarding preferred or desired situations in a community, including specific problems that need to be addressed; some determination of priority for local needs follows problem identification. In most instances, this entails the collection of first-hand information from relevant audiences through a variety of needs assessment techniques. Five commonly utilized approaches for gathering information are:
The Key informant approach assumes individuals are in positions to accurately articulate needs and to assist in program planning.
Sources of Data: Interview responses and comments.
The Community forum approach relies on self-selected individuals to articulate and assess the needs and service patterns of the target population.
Sources of Data: Notes or recordings from the public meetings.
The Survey approach utilizes the technique of collecting data from a sample of the target population and extrapolating to the entire population.
Sources of Data: Questionnaires, interview schedule forms
The Social indicators approach is based upon inferences from descriptive statistics found in public sectors and reports.
Sources of Data: U.S. Census Reports, political agency records (Department of Human Services, Social Security, county records, etc.)
The Nominal group process approach takes advantage of each person’s knowledge and experience to generate and clarify ideas, reach consensus, prioritize, and make decisions on alternative action.
Sources of Data: Notes or recordings from public meetings.