A needs assessment is a systematic appraisal of the needs of a particular population within a community.
Imagine you have been tasked with planning a needs assessment in your community. To complete this, you will need to do the following:
- Read existing literature on a population of interest to you.
- Interview at least one key informant.
- Develop a plan for data collection and analysis.
- Summarize your findings.
Write a 2,100- to 2,800-word paper to summarize your needs assessment. Include the following:
- Determine the target population. Based on your knowledge of your community, specify the target population for your needs assessment. The target population could be clients such as trauma survivors, preschool children with autism-spectrum disorders, adults in a substance-abuse treatment program, or homeless individuals. It might also be client advocates, parents, administrators, or human services professionals. Use current published literature and your knowledge of your community to identify a population with a perceived need or needs.
- Begin your paper with a summary of the perceived need or needs.
- Include existing data from published studies in this section of your report. Read a number of articles on the topic so you are well versed in the needs of a particular population.
- Describe the current status of the population in your community.
- For example, if you are interested in addressing the needs of homeless people in your community, describe the services and resources currently available and accessible to this population. Many needs may already be met by existing programs and services. Describe these needs.
- Interview at least one key informant or specialist in the field. Try to get as much information as you can on gaps that exist between available and needed services and resources. Ask probing questions.
- For example, what is the single most pressing need that homeless individuals have in this community? What are other important needs?
- How are these needs currently being addressed? If a particular need is not being addressed, why is it not being addressed? What resources are currently available for addressing these needs? Who would deliver the needed services? Summarize the results of your interview in this section of your report.
- Devise one additional strategy for collecting information about the needs of the target population.
- For example, you may decide to administer a questionnaire or organize a focus group. Discuss your strategy in detail. If there is already a validated questionnaire that is relevant to the group you are assessing, describe it. If not, describe the type of instrument that would be useful in assessing the needs of the target population. For additional information on needs assessment strategies, conduct additional Internet research.
- Outline a general plan for data analysis.
- Once you have collected data, either qualitative or quantitative, you need to analyze and interpret it. Describe how you would do this.
- The next step in a needs assessment is to analyze the data and use the results to plan appropriate interventions. Because you are only planning and not conducting a needs assessment, you will not have actual data to analyze and use. However, you may still anticipate the needs of a given population and discuss strategies for addressing them.
- For example, if information gleaned from research articles and if key informants suggest that the homeless population in your community needs education on existing mental health services, you may develop a plan for helping the homeless population learn more about community mental health services currently available to them. In other words, you can devise a strategy for increasing awareness of mental health services. At this point, your plan will be general and tentative, because you have not actually analyzed data. In this section of your paper, offer at least one strategy for addressing a likely need.
- Summarize your findings in a concluding paragraph.
Cite a minimum of five scholarly references.
Format your paper according to APA guidelines.
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