Community assessment is one of the ever-so-important aspects of any Head Start or Early Head Start program, though it can be a cumbersome task. Add that to navigating start up or implementation of an Early Head Start – Child Care Partnership (EHS-CCP) Program and it can seem like one more item on the to do list. But, a community assessment that includes the EHS-CCP program also provides significant opportunity to uncover and understand trends and needs in the communities you serve.
Whether you’re preparing to conduct a complete community assessment or perform an annual update here are a few tips to consider –
Make sure you are familiar with the new Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS) as they relate to community assessment. And just as importantly, make sure your child care partners are aware. See our recent blog post, Community Assessment in the New HSPPS, for a brief summary of what’s the same and what is different.
Determine your community assessment process, team, and timeline. You might have a process in place from the past or it might be time to re-look at how you conduct your community assessment. We’ve heard from some grantees that the community assessment process can, at times, feel like an ongoing update of past data without a true refresh. Afford yourself a timeline that allows you to dig into data, explore new sources of information, and gather input from stakeholders. Check out other tips and resources for a strong community assessment.
Decide how you want your child care partners to be involved in the community assessment process. For example, providing insight and feedback, implementing surveys with parents and staff, or attending a meeting to share findings. Then…
Set clear expectations with your child care partners about their role in the community assessment process. Consider formalizing those expectations by including it their EHS-CCP partner contract. With clear expectations from the beginning you will set yourself up for a robust and smooth community assessment process. Since community assessment may be new for your child care partners, allow time for discussion and questions. The information and ideas your child care partners can contribute are significant and will be a great resources for your community assessment report!
Did you know that Foundations for Families assists Head Start and Early Head Start grantees with community assessment? From research to report writing, we are able to help guide you through the process and produce a high quality, useful and informative report. Please feel free to be in touch to explore how we can support your community assessment efforts.