To be responsive, programs must understand the needs and characteristics of the children, families, and communities they serve. The Community Assessment provides programs with a method for ensuring through planning that they remain quick to respond to the needs of the children and families they serve and the changing needs of their communities.
They provide a starting point for understanding community strengths and identifying gaps in services and help mobilize necessary resources.
When used in conjunction with other program data, it informs program planning.
The Head Start Program Performance Standard 1302.11- states grantees must conduct a Community Assessment within its service area once every five years. In addition, a program must annually review and update the community assessment to reflect any significant changes.
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The Community Assessment must use data that describes community strengths, needs, and resources and include, at a minimum:
The number of eligible infants, toddlers, preschool age children, and expectant mothers, including their geographic location, race, ethnicity, and languages they speak, including: children experiencing homelessness, children in foster care; and children with disabilities, including types of disabilities and relevant services and resources provided to these children by community agencies;
The education, health, nutrition and social service needs of eligible children and their families, including prevalent social or economic factors that impact their well-being;
Typical work, school, and training schedules of parents with eligible children;
Other child development, child care centers, and family child care programs that serve eligible children, including home visiting, publicly funded state and local preschools, and the approximate number of eligible children served;
Resources that are available in the community to address the needs of eligible children and their families; and,
Strengths of the community