Community Assessment

Plan Data Collection Logistics, Including Cultural Considerations

a dad holds his son in his arms

It is important to inform staff, parents, and key stakeholders about the community assessment's purpose and process. Programs use data to direct continuous improvement related to curriculum choice and implementation, teaching practices, professional development, program design, and other program decisions, including changing or targeting the scope of services. If staff, parents, and community partners understand that the community assessment is an important part of the Head Start program's work, it will be easier to collect and use the information. Everyone will understand its purpose and, therefore, be more likely to participate. Keeping participants informed along the way also will spur their interest and motivation.

Assuring participants' confidentiality is an essential part of gathering written or verbal information. Let all participants know that the process is confidential; individual names will not be included in the community assessment report; findings are reported for groups, not individuals; and that participation is optional. State this protocol about confidentiality up front and repeatedly. Ideally, this understanding can be extended to external stakeholders, who may also be more willing to participate if there is meaningful discussion around the importance of protecting the privacy of shared clients.

Once you have developed your interview or survey questions, there are still a number of decisions to make before you begin.