A Community Action Guide to Comprehensive Community Needs Assessments– This guide supports planning and implementing the comprehensive Community Needs Assessment. It lays out design choices, planning steps, implementation practices, analysis, and presentation options. It is intended to help individual CAAs choose and implement effective community assessment practices; it also includes options that groups of agencies can implement together in partnership with state CSBG offices.
Checklist for Monitoring Community Needs Assessments– This checklist is designed to assist CSBG State Offices. The document will help monitors answer the following questions:
- What should I be looking for when I read a Community Needs Assessment (CNA) report?
- What elements should the CNA report contain?
- How do I know if this is a “comprehensive and complete” CNA report?
- How can I assist the CEE in doing a more comprehensive CNA report?
- How do you evaluate Community Needs Assessments?
- Do you have a review tool or checklist? Can you share it?
- How long does it take to complete a review of a needs assessment?
Our agencies submit a combined Community Assessment Report and Strategic Plan (CARSP) and we give written guidance ahead of time that spells out what they must include to show they’ve met Community Assessment requirements (Org. Standards, CSBG Act) and align with ROMA principles. Here’s the link to our most recent FY21-23 CARSP Guide; see pages 9-11 (Sections IV. 7 through 9) for the Community Assessment specific requirements.
Because our state completes a State Plan every two years, our Community Needs Assessment review is typically done in conjunction with our State Planning process which requires our eligible entities to submit a copy of their Needs Assessment and Community Action Plan with other State Plan documents we request. The Needs assessment is reviewed by our CSBG team of managers and monitors to ensure the organization has met requirements, which we have summarized on a one page document on our website: https://dphhs.mt.gov/Portals/85/hcsd/documents/csbgmanual/CSBGNeedsAssessment.pdf
In addition, while the agency is conducting their assessment, we are available to help at every stage, if they chose, to make sure they are on the correct path to meeting requirements. I have often reviewed an agency’s agenda or process plan before their assessment has been conducted; or reviewed a draft of the written document before it is officially submitted.
In Wyoming, we used NASCSP’s “A Community Action Guide to Comprehensive Community Needs Assessments” to review each of our eligible entities community needs assessment. This tool was then used to provide a summary review that we then shared with the entities and we did a webinar on what should be covered in the CNA and any trends we saw when looking at all of them. This also provided them valuable information for the next time they do the assessment.
Depending on the length of the CNA, it took approximately 2-3 hours per each one since we read them all first and made notes on each, then went back a second time with the review tool and then wrote the summary.