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Week 5: Community Assessment and the Role of Human Services Professional Practitioners
In human services, researchers often conduct formal community assessments as a way to systematically evaluate a community’s strengths, needs, and resources and to identify gaps that can be closed with targeted programs.
Throughout this course, you have been doing something similar in a more informal manner: you have been assessing urban environments as well as your own community. You have been collecting information pertaining to the conditions you see and how those conditions have, in all likelihood, negatively impacted the service users you will interact with in your human services work. With this information, you can better understand service users’ problems, needs, and the reasons for those needs.
This week, you continue compiling and evaluating information about your own community through news articles and an interview with an organizational leader.
Learning Objectives
Students will:
· Describe community assessment
· Describe the value of community assessment to human services professional practitioners
· Analyze human services organizations’ response to community needs
· Identify barriers to human services organizations’ assessment and response efforts 
Learning Resources
Community Assessment
AmeriCorps Service Resources. (2018, June 21). Five steps to assessing community needs [Video].
Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 15 minutes.
Eschenfelder, B. E. (2010). Using community-based needs assessments to strengthen nonprofit-government collaboration and service delivery. Journal of Health and Human Services Administration, 32(4), 405–446.
· Read pages 405–411 for a description of community assessment.
Ohio State University Extension. (n.d.). Community assessment.
Example News Articles
Holve, E. (2020, October 13). Punishing the homeless doesn’t solve the problem, compassion does. The Orion.
Jenco, M. (2020, June 3). Study: COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated hardships for low-income, minority families. AAP News.
Discussion: Community Assessment
If you were to zoom out and take a bird’s-eye view of your community, what would you see? What kinds of trends or issues would such a view reveal? While a community assessment does aim to show a similar broad, sweeping view of a community, humans aren’t afforded that lofty perspective. We must instead work on the ground to compile pieces of information and then synthesize them for deeper understanding.
One way to track and evaluate community needs is to notice what topics come up repeatedly in the local news or media outlets. For this Discussion, you review a local news article on a community need to better understand both the assessment process and your own community.
To Prepare
· Review your course announcements for possible information related to this week’s Discussion and Assignment.
· Review the example news articles in the Learning Resources.
· Search for a local news article in which a community need is identified and addressed in your own community OF NORFOLK, VIRGINIA. Consider how information was gathered and assessed related to the community need.
By Day 4
Summarize the local news article and describe the means of information gathering and assessment. Using your article as an example, explain why understanding the community in this way is valuable to human services professional practitioners. Finally, explain what you learned about your own community by reading the article. Provide a link to the news article so your colleagues can access it if they would like.
By Day 6
Respond to at least one colleague by sharing an insight gained from reading their post.

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