Seeking Community Input
When seeking community input, often the question asked is “What services do you need?” Without a larger frame of reference, responses tend to be personal and short term. A better way is to provide a frame of reference related to a gap in outcomes identified from a systematic needs assessment.
Community input should be solicited from two groups. One is people to be served in the community. the other is providers of services. Both should be presented with the gaps in outcomes and targeted questions asked. These questions can include: Of the gaps presented, which are the most significant or should be addressed first? What are the conditions, factors, situations you think contribute to each gap? Which factors do you think are the most important to address? What do you find missing in the community that could address these factors or conditions to help close the gap? What is helping close the gap that we could do more of?
Providers should be asked additionally: What are you currently doing to address the gaps in outcomes? How do you know if you are having an impact? What could you do more of if resources were there? What could you do differently if resources were there? What is not being done in the community that could help reduce the gap in each outcome?
These and other questions that get at the underlying factors that hinder the attainment of desired outcomes for children and their families are important. Following that, evidence based strategies to address these outcomes have to be assessed if present and available, and if not, how to get them in the community.