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Community Needs Assessment

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2018
2 pages
After defining a "community needs assessment," this paper provides instructions on how to plan and implement a community needs assessment.
A "community needs assessment" uses research methods to determine a community's needs on a certain issue, such as community response to crime victims. The "community" could be a geographic area, members of a specific demographic group within that area, or members of an institution, such as a college. It is important to obtain input from at least three primary groups when doing a victim-related community needs assessment. Suggested groups are current and former victims of crime or abuse, practitioners or professionals who work with victims, and general members of the community. Regarding the planning of a community needs assessment, practitioners and researchers should cooperate in planning the most appropriate strategies for identifying current needs. Issues to be addressed are whose needs are the focus of the planning, types of needs to be identified, and what is already known about community needs. Instructions on how to conduct a community needs assessment focus on two research methods, i.e., surveys, which are useful for obtaining information anonymously or from larger groups of people at once, and individual and/or focus group interviews with key stakeholders, which obtain more in-depth information from a smaller group of people. Eight steps are outlined for obtaining an understanding of current needs within the community and identifying potential strengths and resources, as well as barriers and challenges that must be addressed and potential solutions for meeting the identified needs. Four additional resources are described.