Needs Assessment in Program Evaluation

 

Assessment is perhaps the most fundamental of all social work activities. It is a process of gathering pertinent information to answer questions about problems, contributions to problems, and potential strengths and assets. At a program-evaluation or program-planning level, a social worker applies the same thoughtful process used in individual assessment but extends or filters it to answer program-level questions.

The purpose of a particular needs assessment will help you determine the types of questions to ask and from whom to gather information. You employ a thinking process similar to that used in your experiences with direct practice assessment. You generate two needs assessment plans this week, one for a program of your choice that meets an unmet need, and the other for a support group for caregivers.

 

Social workers often identify client problems that suggest the need for a new or more focused service. Rather than bemoaning the lack of resources, many social workers consider creating new services in the future. They might next imagine what an appropriate service or program would look like. This week, you generate a needs assessment plan for a program that meets an unmet need of your choice.

To prepare for this Discussion, review the examples of needs assessments presented in both of the readings. Consider the elements of a needs assessment plan that you must include in your own plan.

Post a needs assessment plan for a potential program of your choice that meets a currently unmet need. Describe the unmet need and how current information supports your position that a needs assessment is warranted.

Identify the sources of information that you might use when conducting a needs assessment, including potential informants. Explain who among these potential informants would be valuable resources and why. Identify steps for obtaining credible, unbiased information.

Be sure to cite course resources or other resources, such as those in the Walden Library, related to both the program idea and to approaches to needs assessments.

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