Developing Successful Community Health Programs

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Developing successful community health programs requires careful planning, flexibility, and patience. The planning and evaluation cycle is a fluid process that rarely moves in a linear direction (Issel, 2014). When entering a community, educators must forgo their preconceived notions and perform a thorough needs assessment, a critical first step. Adequate needs assessments often form the basis for goal setting, program planning/development, and program implementation (Gilmore, 2012). Further benefits of assessment include distinguishing between actual and perceived needs, targeting and tailoring interventions and programs to specific populations, identifying community resources, selecting program strategies, and evaluating progress…show more content…
The United Way of Lancaster County performed a needs assessment in June 2014. More than 600 participants completed a telephone survey and the results showed a need in three areas: education, financial stability, and health (F&M College Center for Opinion Research, 2014). Organizations that focus programming in one or more of these areas increase the likelihood of obtaining funding from the United Way.
In early December 2014, the United Way hosted a Community Conversation in the southern end of Lancaster County, and invited members of the community to attend. A United Way representative directed the conversation and a scribe recorded the dialog. The facilitator asked participants to share their thoughts about the community. They were encouraged to discuss positive and negative attributes, barriers to improvement, and resources in the area. As the meeting progressed, recurring themes emerged, such as generational poverty, lack of education, the need for a greater emphasis on parenting skills, increased youth programming, better marketing of existing programs, and access to transportation. In short, participants of the conversation noted the need to increase community members’ physical, emotional, and financial health.
The United Way incorporates information collected from the Community Conversation into their community assessment data
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