Community Assessment

Identifying Trends

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Trend data gathered through the community assessment can be particularly valuable in helping you frame and prioritize recommendations. Your report needs to refer to trends when they are relevant. Typically, such trends are revealed in interviews or survey questions that ask respondents to reflect on changes over time, such as, "What changes have you noticed over the last three to five years?" You might ask mental health providers or food banks if they have observed population shifts or changes in their clients' needs. These kinds of questions look at the big picture, and give you a sense of what trends might affect your Head Start program in the future. For example, discussions with local school officials may indicate that a state-funded preschool program is going to expand in the next few years and offer preschool services to all low-income 4-year-olds. As a result, your program may decide to coordinate with the state programs to provide a broader range of services and options to families or to prioritize 3-year-olds for upcoming enrollment opportunities.

Census and PIR data spanning a period of time can also point to demographic and family changes. Estimates of eligible populations are another source of trend data and can help you forecast future program services.

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You have analyzed the data, drawn meaning from the results, and established priorities and recommendations based on the community assessment findings. Step 5, Communicate and Incorporate, will lead you to the finish line and beyond, as you prepare the community assessment report and embed its findings into your ongoing program planning. Use the A Closer Look: Tell Your Story with Data to review how effective visuals can help users analyze data and make it more accessible.