Discussion: Planning a Needs Assessment
Social workers often identify client problems that suggest the need for a new or more focused service. Rather than bemoaning the lack of resources, many social workers consider creating new services in the future. They might next imagine what an appropriate service or program would look like. This week, you generate a needs assessment plan for a program that meets an unmet need of your choice.
To prepare for this Discussion, review the examples of needs assessments presented in both of the readings. Consider the elements of a needs assessment plan that you must include in your own plan.
By Day 3
Post a needs assessment plan for a potential program of your choice that meets a currently unmet need. Describe the unmet need and how current information supports your position that a needs assessment is warranted.
Identify the sources of information that you might use when conducting a needs assessment, including potential informants. Explain who among these potential informants would be valuable resources and why. Identify steps for obtaining credible, unbiased information.
Be sure to cite course resources or other resources, such as those in the Walden Library, related to both the program idea and to approaches to needs assessments.
By Day 5
Respond to at least two colleagues by doing all of the following:
- Indicate strengths of their needs assessment plan that will enable the needs assessments to yield support for the program that they want to develop.
- Offer suggestions to improve the needs assessment plan in areas such as:
- Defining the extent and scope of the need
- Obtaining important information about the target population
- Identifying issues that might affect the target population’s ability to access the program or services
Colleague 1: Brandon Oates
Post a needs assessment plan for a potential program of your choice that meets a currently unmet need. Describe the unmet need and how current information supports your position that a needs assessment is warranted. Identify the sources of information that you might use when conducting a needs assessment, including potential informants. Explain who among these potential informants would be valuable resources and why. Identify steps for obtaining credible, unbiased information.Dr. Casiano and Class, Currently the local city has limited resources to help the poor and homeless populations. A local nonprofit and a university have decided to work together to create a resource center. The resource center will be a drop-in center with an emergency shower, laundry room, and other amenities. The idea is to have social workers and interns run the resource center to help the population navigate the system and locate the appropriate resources so that the individuals can receive the help that they need. The local university is utilizing the nonprofit to collect data by conducting a needs assessment. Currently this implementation stage is the where the needs assessment is at in the resource center (Dudley, 2020). The form of needs assessment is interviews and surveys. The clients that come into the nonprofit for services as well as pop up locations around the city with incentives to interview the homeless population. Because these are the potential clients of the resource center, they would ultimately be valuable resources for data. The data will then be used to write grants for what is needed in the resource center.
Dudley, J. R. (2020). Needs Assessment. Social work evaluation: Enhancing what we do (3rd ed.) Oxford University Press (pp. 115–143).
Colleague 2: Jessica
Needs Assessment Plan
Client’s Problem: Women experiencing homelessness due to trauma experiences
Unmet need: client is not dealing with trauma
Determine the causes of their problems: They are not dealing with the trauma that causes them to continue in the cycle of homelessness.
Describe The Unmet Need and Supporting Information
Within the agency, some people consistently return to the shelter after being helped with housing. Women are the fastest-growing population within homeless shelters (Salem et al.,2018). What is very common in this population is that they have trauma from childhood, which is either physical, sexual, or both. There is a need for trauma-informed services such as group work (Salem et al.,2018). Currently, they have a trauma group at the agency with those who have made it to long-term shelter, but it is not mandatory. The group is going well for the participants, and the leader feels that it is an important group. This group should be a requirement for those in short- and long-term care.
Identifying Sources of Information
When conducting a needs assessment, there is information to be gathered to help with creating a program. First, talk to the case managers of the clients to discuss if having a trauma program is necessary. Then, searching for any local studies on homeless women suffering from trauma. Finding local research on trauma may have some clients who use the shelter services. If clients have shown trauma and are repeat clients of the shelter, this may help the stakeholders decide that this is an excellent program (Dudley,2020). Another part of the research would be to gather data from other shelters within the community via caseworkers. Gathering information from other caseworkers will help the stakeholders decide that this program is needed.
Explain Who Would Be the Most Valuable from the Identified Sources
Essential informants for this program would be the caseworkers. Caseworkers are close to their clients, and they assess the clients so they would know a client’s history. They would also know what changes needed to be made to the program to make it more valuable. Convincing the caseworker that the program is necessary would be vital, for they would be considered high stakeholders with high power (sheet from class). Because of their high power, they can help push the program through because, in a trial program, they would have the most information to give if the program was a success.
Identify Steps for Obtaining Credible, Unbiased Information
The step taken to obtain creditable unbiased information is the use of triangulation. Triangulation is data collection from 3 different sources with three different perspectives (Tutty & Rothery, 2010). The three data collection ways are: Conduct research locally and countrywide to find out what research says about trauma groups among women in the homeless populations. Send out surveys to the caseworkers locally to gather data. The other way is to hear from clients themselves. While trauma is a complex topic to discuss, a focus group where the clients talk about trauma with an experienced worker who has led a trauma group would be essential to receive information from the clients. The data analysis begins by conducting these three different ways of gathering data, and then the stakeholders will see the findings. Showing these three ways also help stakeholders see that there is a need for a trauma group.
Dudley, J. R. (2020). Social Work Evaluation: Enhancing what we do. Oxford University Press.
Salem, B. E., Kwon, J., & Ames, M. (2017). On the frontlines: Perspectives of providers working with homeless women. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 40(5), 665–687. https://doi.org/10.1177/0193945916689081
Tutty, L. M., & Rothery, M. A. (2010). Needs assessments. In Thyer, B. A., The Handbook of Social Work Research Methods (pp. 149–162). essay, SAGE.