The need for assessment

icon-needsassessmentsAre you designing a training program for community intermediaries to help reach your target audience? No matter how well you know your target audience, it’s important to take the time to conduct a needs assessment before you start to design program content.

Why? Needs assessments are important to:

  • clarify specific areas of interest or need to focus on when designing your training
  • determine the types of tools that will be most useful for the community intermediaries you’re working with
  • identify gaps in community knowledge or expertise

Also, needs assessment can help you get more community support for your project. If people have stated a need for a certain course of action, they are more likely to support it – and to get involved.

Conducting a needs assessment does not have to be a long and time-consuming process. It can be as simple as circulating a questionnaire to the community intermediaries that you hope to train. For example, the York Region Centre for Community Safety (YRCCS) designed a questionnaire to identify topic areas for their Domestic Violence Legal Training Project – an initiative to train service providers and faith leaders on legal issues facing victims of domestic violence. YRCCS distributed the questionnaire to groups who were interested in participating in the project.

Through the needs assessment, YRCCS learned that information was needed on both practical problems facing victims of domestic violence (such as calling 911) and systemic issues (such as the role of the courts and the interface between family law, immigration law, poverty law and domestic violence). As a result, YRCCS  is now focused on developing seven training modules which will deliver practical and legal information not readily available elsewhere in York Region.

For more information about the Domestic Violence Legal Training Project and other community intermediary training initiatives, click here.

One Comment

  1. Author: Ingrid Sapona

    on September 17, 2014 at 4:06 pm - Reply

    I couldn’t agree more about the importance of a needs assessment. I find that sometimes when I suggest that to clients, they are initially turned off because they think that means focus groups or long surveys. As you point out, that need not be (and normally should not be) the case. But you need to know where people are coming from and where they want to go.

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