Needs Assessment: Broadening The Perspective On Its Utility And Timing

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Needs assessment, a tool for program planning, involves collecting data from service agencies, key informants, and potential clients, and drawing inferences from indicators of community needs. As portrayed in the literature, this approach to evaluation should only be used prior to program development. Both the utility and the timing of the needs assessment approach have been restricted by this portrayal, as case studies will illustrate. Needs assessments should be conducted not only in the initial planning stage but periodically after a program has been implemented. In conjunction with formative evaluations, periodic needs assessments can be useful in the on-going process of program modification and in planning for future services delivery.

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