Community Assessment for Transportation

Understanding the quality and availability of transportation services to Head Start families is an integral part of the community assessment. Program directors and transportation coordinators can use this tip sheet as a starting point in conducting a community assessment of transportation. Local needs and conditions should be considered when a program establishes its own transportation services.

Note: This resource is under review.

The following is an excerpt from Transportation PathFinder.

A Head Start agency must complete a community self-assessment to gather information about the strengths, concerns and conditions in their community (45 CFR 1304.51(i)(1). A strong assessment will recognize cultural, linguistic, ethnic, and economic diversity and obtain an overall viewpoint of the community from participants. With a community self-assessment, valuable insight can be gained about the effectiveness and progress in meeting program goals and local needs by the Head Start agency. Part of this community self-assessment should include how a program's transportation services are helping with the provision of Head Start services to the community.

The techniques for a community self-assessment will vary from program to program. However, a thorough assessment involves a combination of the following:

  • separate focus groups for parents, service providers, etc.
  • community forums
  • interviews
  • surveys
  • action research

It is important to develop questions on a variety of topics to ask participants from the community. The discussion topics involving transportation services may include the following:

  • Ask about transportation providers
    • Are there available public transportation services?
    • Are there available private, non-profit transportation services?
    • Are there available school district transportation services?
  • Ask about collaboration between providers
    • Are there contracts or Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) among preschool transportation providers?
    • Are there contracts or MOUs with school districts?
    • Are there contracts or MOUs with other human services agencies?
  • Ask about the location of families in the community
    • Where do families live?
    • Where do families work?
    • Where do families attend school?
  • Ask about the location of other child care services in the community
    • Where are other child care centers located?
    • What child care providers serve Head Start eligible families?
    • Are there family child care homes?
    • Is the location of the Head Start center accessible to working parents?
  • Ask about the condition of roads and streets in the community
    • Are roads graded or maintained with asphalt or gravel?
    • What is the condition of the access roads to children's homes?
    • How close are streets or highways to children's homes?
    • Are there pending projects for highway construction?
    • Are there any dangerous intersections or roads that should be avoided when planning a bus route?
  • Ask about the underserved population of children in the community
    • How many families have Head Start eligible children?
    • What is the overall population of children under five years and under three years old?
    • Would a new/additional bus route encourage more eligible children to attend Head Start?
    • How many children with special needs are there in the community?
  • Ask about the languages and cultures represented in the community
    • How many different languages are spoken in the community?
    • What cultural/ethnic diversity exists among the community?
    • Do medical/transportation personnel within the community speak the languages of Head Start eligible families?
  • Ask about bus driver training available through other providers in the community
    • Does the state provide any bus driver training in the area?
    • Does a local school district provide bus driver training?
  • Ask about drug testing services in the community
    • Who provides drug testing services?
    • How often are drug testing services available?
    • How much do drug testing services cost?
  • Ask about safety training for staff, parents, and children
    • Are there local or state resources that can assist with Child Safety Restraint System (CSRS) installation and training?
    • Are state police active in safety training?
    • Is there a local fire department that would participate in bus evacuation training?
    • Are there community partners that would participate in any other safety training activities?

Note: This tip sheet is intended as a starting point to assist Head Start programs in developing a community self-assessment for transportation. Local needs and conditions should be considered when a program establishes its own transportation services.