The CAAP Community Needs Assessment is a comprehensive tool that provides Pennsylvania's Community Action Agencies with the means to capture information about their community, analyze the data, and identify the current challenges that need to be addressed within the community. Community Action Agencies are required by federal legislation to complete a community needs assessment every three years. Conducting a Community Needs Assessment allows Community Action to be less reactionary and more visionary in our work within the communities.

The NEW CAAP Community Needs Assessment Tool

As of January 2018, we have a new CAAP Community Needs Assessment tool! The new tool is part of a Community Commons hub for CAAP. Community Commons is a data sharing interactional website. The CAAP hub includes mapping features that can be used with or separate from the Community Needs Assessment report. This is timely as new Community Need Assessments are due in 2018.

An orientation webinar on the new tool was held January 24, 2018. The video may be viewed by clicking here.

The online CAAP Community Needs Assessment Tool provides background information for the state and counties from over twenty data sources, including federal and state organizations. The CAAP Community Needs Assessment Tool allows agencies to query the database and create a document that serves as a community profile – the quantitative data portion of the needs assessment. The tool was developed in partnership with the Missouri Community Action Network (MCAN), The Institute of People, Place and Possibility (IP3) and the University of Missouri CARES unit, under the guidance of a CAAP work group consisting of staff from local PA Community Action Agencies. The PA Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) funded the acquisition and development. PA Community Action Agencies fund the annual maintenance of information supplied by CARES and the Pennsylvania State Data Center (PSDC).

Only members of the Pennsylvania Community Action network may access the CAAP Community Needs Assessment Tool. Users must first register a Community Commons username. The process is listed on the Community Commons Getting Started page linked to the above image or the colorized words within the paragraphs. Users will then request CAAP hub membership. CAAP staff will receive the request and validate the requester as a member of the Community Action network. The user may then begin use of the hub and all its information.

Community Needs Assessment Resources:

Getting the initial data report of the Community Profile is only the beginning of the Community Needs Assessment process. Once obtained, the data must be analyzed and needs, challenges, opportunities and resources identified to lay the groundwork for Community Action work plans and strategic planning. To that end, in addition to guiding the development of the Community Needs Assessment Tool, the CAAP work group compiled resources to aid agencies in completing their needs assessment.

Missouri Community Scale Survey

The Missouri Community Action Network developed a six-category list of questions to help guide agencies in conducting a more in-depth assessment survey. Each category provides a vast menu of question choices that agencies can add to their surveys. Results from survey questions provide agencies with a better understanding of their community, program performances, and insights for future endeavors.