A team approach to conducting the community assessment is beneficial because it distributes the effort among many people and adds a variety of perspectives. The community assessment team plans and implements the process, interprets the data, and presents a report of findings for review by the agency's governing body and Policy Council. Ideally, the team will include representation from within the program, including those that reflect the diversity of the communities or populations served, as well as external partners. As soon as the community assessment team is formed, a team leader should be selected. This person will be the primary point of contact throughout the process.
When determining the team structure your program will implement, remember that your goal is to obtain an accurate and comprehensive community assessment while encouraging the effective participation of team members. Ensure all participants are orientated to the process and their role, as well as understand the importance of the community assessment and its impact on the provision of Head Start services to children and families. Team members will benefit from actively participating in the community assessment. They will become better informed about their community, the Head Start program, and the direction forward. Generally, the community assessment team should include:
- Head Start director
- Grantee agency representatives, if applicable
- Key program staff
- Governing body and Policy Council representatives
- Community partners
A team approach to conducting the community assessment is beneficial because it distributes the effort among many people and adds a variety of perspectives.
It is helpful to have at least one team member who is skilled at working with numerical (quantitative) data.
Table 1: Key Roles and Responsibilities of Community Assessment (CA) Team Members
|Head Start director
Grantee agency representatives if applicable
Key program staff (e.g., managers and other staff)
Governing body and Policy Council representatives
As your program grows its internal expertise to implement a comprehensive community assessment process, a consultant can support your efforts. If this is the case, select a consultant who knows Head Start and has worked with similar agencies. The consultant should serve as a partner through each step of the community assessment process, providing ongoing updates and keeping you informed along the way. If a consultant is used, the community assessment team will maintain a key role by overseeing the process, leading the way forward, and ensuring the final report meets the team's expectations.
As the community assessment team begins its work, the members may want to use brainstorming techniques to discuss the following questions and determine implementation activities.
- What is the purpose of the team?
- What tasks will the team need to perform?
- What skills are required to perform the team's tasks? Based on the tasks and skills identified, does the team need to increase its capacity by adding other individuals to the team?
- Who are the individuals responsible for performing each task?
- What are the completion dates for each task?
- What does the team need in order to stay motivated?
- What kind of guidance, support, and resources do the team need?
New Director Tip
It may be helpful to review a completed community assessment report. Your regional office or T/TA staff may be able to help you with this and provide support to you in designing your community assessment process. You can find inspiration in the community assessment reports posted on the Internet. A Google search for "Head Start Community Assessment" provides a long list of reports to review.
Resource Type: Article
National Centers: Program Management and Fiscal Operations
Audience: Directors and Managers
Last Updated: August 4, 2023