In order to understand the viability of putting together a comprehensive youth development program it is critical to determine whether the work is truly necessary. A helps you answer “Why now? Why me?” As part of the needs assessment you will:
- Better understand the problem you are attempting to address,
- Gather information about resources and services that are already available to your target audience.
- Identify gaps in services
You are a community recreation agent in the city of Valley Hill. For this assignment, you are in the early stages of putting together a comprehensive youth development program. Before you can begin your work you must present your rationale for such a program to your director and representatives from Valley Hill city council. They want to know “Why now?” and “Why you?.” They have instructed you to conduct a needs assessment in order to justify going forward with your plan.
To complete this assignment address the following:
- Why are you collecting this data? What is the problem?
- What methods (focus groups, surveys, etc…a combination of methods) will you use to collect data?
- How will you collect the data? Will you be asking others to partner with you? If so, why and how?
- From whom will you collect the data?
- What questions will you use to collect the data?
- What needs to you anticipate?
You must provide thorough justification for each question based upon the information provided regarding Valley Hill.
It is expected that your needs assessment will be professionally assembled, will cover all relevant topic areas, and will help to inspire your director and city council to give you the “go ahead.” Creativity and innovation is encouraged, so feel free to take liberties in terms of format, packaging, and design.
Valley Hill is typical of many small cities in the United States. It is located at the northern point of a major metropolitan area. Valley Hill itself has just over 100,000 residents. It is considered a fairly affluent small city, with a good economic mix (manufacturing, technology, retail, and professional services). It is a regional destination for tourists, sporting a vibrant downtown, close proximity to the mountains, abundant water resources (lakes, rivers, waterfalls), and a variety of city- and county-managed parks, beaches, community centers and athletic fields. Valley Hill has six public high schools that serve the city’s residents, nine public middle schools, and twenty one public elementary schools. There are several private school options for children, and the city boasts a large homeschool population as well. The city has its own police force, fire department, EMS services, public transit, parks and recreation, roads, and public housing departments, and supports a number of other community services as well, including a new not-for-profit Children’s Museum. The city is proud to be the home of two well-known private universities, an extensive community-technical college system, and is home to a branch campus of the state’s major research university, which is located less than an hour away.
While Valley Hill is considered by many to be a great place to live, it does have its challenges. For example, there is a fairly large income disparity between residents, and there are pockets of the city that have been largely unaffected by the recent economic boom. One such pocket is the neighborhood of Oldtown, a historically working class African American neighborhood located near the geographical center of the city. The Oldtown neighborhood has a proud and rich history, has an active neighborhood association, and is home to a mix of income levels ranging from working class households to families who live in public housing units. While Oldtown has historically been known as an African American neighborhood, a recent wave of immigration has brought a substantial number of families of Hispanic descent into the area. At the time of this writing, the racial/ethnic breakdown of Oldtown is approximately 50% Black or African American, 30% Hispanic, and 20% White. A significant number of Oldtown residents receive public assistance, including public housing vouchers, food stamps, Medicaid, Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF), and/or Supplemental Security Income. Over 70% of families who have children qualify for free or reduced lunch. The crime rate in Oldtown is slightly higher than the city as a whole, and significantly higher than the surrounding county.
The Valley Hill School District has a bussing policy in place, so children in Oldtown do not all go to the same school. In fact, there is a strong probability that two children in the same grade who live on opposite sides of the same street could attend different schools. The only youth-serving organization that exists in Oldtown is the John W. Covington Community Center, a small not-for-profit organization in the neighborhood. The “JC”, as it’s known, offers free daycare (ages 0-4) to approximately 10 families, provides a place for kids to do homework after school, 3 or 4 old Apple computers, and some basic recreation activities (basketball on an outdoor hoop, 4-square, arts and crafts). The center is small and cramped, and can only accommodate approximately 20 kids at a time for both daycare and afterschool activities. There are 3 full-time staff members, 2 part-time daycare workers, and the center operates on a budget of approximately $150,000 per year. In the heart of the neighborhood is the former Oldtown Elementary School which has been vacant since a new elementary school was built 3 years ago. The city has tried to find a buyer for the property, but given the economic conditions in Oldtown, there have been few interested parties. The school has office space, approximately 30 classrooms, an art room, auditorium, cafeteria, and gymnasium. Outside is a playground, and a multi-purpose athletic field. The physical structure of the building is safe for occupation, but it needs considerable tender loving care (a thorough cleaning, new paint, light bulbs, etc.). Most of the old desks, chairs and tables remain, and the kitchen appliances are all usable. No other equipment remains (office machines, computers, athletic equipment, etc.). The playground is unsafe for use, and the athletic field is overgrown and not in playing condition.