Community Assessment

Review and Update the Community Assessment

a toddler girl smiles over adult's shoulder

Programs will need to set aside time throughout the five-year grant period for the community assessment annual update to make sure the data is still relevant, and to use it in strategic planning. It is important to be intentional about using data to inform decisions, especially those that will help improve program quality and achieve better outcomes for enrolled children and families.

On an annual basis, programs must review and update the community assessment to reflect any significant changes. Changes may include increased availability of publicly-funded pre-kindergarten, the extent to which the community's pre-kindergarten meets the needs of the parents and children served by the program, and whether it is offered for a full school day. The annual review must also identify rates of family and child homelessness and significant shifts in community demographics and resources (45 CFR §1302.11(b)(2)). In addition, the review should also examine the demographic, economic, environmental, and resource changes that impact your program and the community. Another source of change may be new legislation that affects the availability of housing, medical, educational, or transportation services to the low-income families served by your program.

These interim reviews require an abbreviated community assessment process that will include planning, designing data collection, data-gathering, analysis, and decision-making. The following steps are recommended as you undertake the annual review and update the community assessment:

  • Set up a team with a membership structure that is the same or similar to the original team.
  • Follow a sequence of steps similar to those used for the original community assessment, although you may be able to shorten the overall timeframe.
  • Design your data collection to focus on potential changes impacting your program and populations served. You are required to report significant changes.
  • Collect information from internal and external sources, including your partners and collaborating agencies.
  • Review how the new information might impact the recommendations previously made and any final decisions that followed.
  • Incorporate new data into the planning cycle. It may be necessary to add a new goal or modify objectives to align with existing goals.