Community Assessment

Specify Information to be Collected

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Use Data that Describes Community Strengths, Needs, and Resources

According to the HSPPS 45 CFR §1302.11(b)(1)(i–vi), "the community assessment must use data that describes community strengths, needs, and resources and include, at a minimum:

  1. The number of eligible infants, toddlers, preschool age children, and expectant mothers, including their geographic location, race, ethnicity, and languages they speak, including:
    1. Children experiencing homelessness (when feasible, this data should be gathered in collaboration with McKinney-Vento Local Education Agency Liaisons (42 U.S.C. 11432(6)(A));
    2. Children in foster care; and
    3. Children with disabilities, including types of disabilities and relevant services and resources provided to these children by community agencies;
  2. The education, health, nutrition, and social service needs of eligible children and their families, including prevalent social or economic factors that impact their well-being;
  3. Typical work, school, and training schedules of parents with eligible children;
  4. Other child development services, child care centers, and family child care programs that serve eligible children, including home visiting, publicly-funded state and local preschools, and the approximate number of eligible children served by other service providers;
  5. Resources that are available in the community to address the needs of eligible children and their families, as well as gaps in service delivery or lack of accessibility to services; and,
  6. Strengths of the community."

After you have collected and analyzed all relevant information, you will be able to use the data for goal-setting and decision-making, as required in the HSPPS. Use the community assessment findings to prioritize key issues; determine the unmet need for Head Start and Early Head Start services among eligible children; identify vulnerable populations; and locate recruitment areas. You will present information about your service area and your conclusions in a written summary report.

Focus on the Service Area

Keep in mind that the community assessment must provide information on the entire service area, not just on recruitment areas.

  • Service area: Geographic area identified in an approved grant application within which a grantee may provide Head Start services. A program must propose a service area in the grant application and define the area by county or sub-county (45 CFR §1302.11(a)(1)).
  • Recruitment area: Geographic locality within which a Head Start program seeks to enroll Head Start children and families. The recruitment area can be the same as the service area or it can be a smaller area or areas within the service area (45 CFR §1305.2).

The community assessment addresses the entire service area, which may include places that are not currently identified for recruitment. Maps submitted as part of the community assessment document should show both the service area and recruitment areas.