Needs assessments are imperative to the success of a project. They are an essential part of the planning process. A need assessment guides the administrators as they define the terms of the project. A needs assessment is defined as, “a systematic approach to studying the state of knowledge, ability, interest, or attitude of a defined audience or group involving a particular subject” (McCawley, 2009, p. 3). An effective needs assessment provides insight, information, is objective, and assists in identifying gaps in services.
Timmreck (2003) states that a needs assessment is used to, “Ascertain what resources, services, equipment, or other available items exist for use in the program being planned” (p.90). The administrator has to know
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90). There are different approaches that can be utilized to collect the data for a needs assessment. Some approaches to collecting data for a needs assessment include: surveys, interviews, focus groups and working groups (McCawley, 2009). The approaches to a needs assessment as defined by Timmreck include: knowledgeable leader/key informant approach, community forum approach, rates under treatment approach, social and health status indicators approach, service population approach, focus groups, community diagnosis approach, and survey approach (2003). The survey approach is used most widely and designed to be simple or complex (Timmreck, 2003).
The service population approach “focuses on a specific target population and uses techniques similar to marketing techniques” (Timmreck, 2003). The service population approach is good because it provides direct insight to the actual needs of the intended service population (Timmreck, 2003). This approach is also good because it identifies if any needs have evolved or changed in the target population (Timmreck, 2003). When utilizing a focus group it is important to remember that, “The similarity with focus groups is largely due to the interaction among participants. As a