What problem do you want to focus on?
Before getting started, get to know the population you’d like to serve. If you already know them, document it with facts, figures, and data you collect. You can’t find a true solution if you aren’t addressing the real needs of the population and the circumstances that created those needs. A good needs and resource assessment is the foundation in program planning. Once your assessment is complete, you will have identified the behaviors and determinants (sometimes called risk and protective factors) that require your focus as well as the resources that will support the work.
What if I’m already implementing a program?
If you are looking to improve or expand an existing program, a needs and resources assessment can still be useful because it helps to review basic information, review assumptions and priorities, apply data to sharpen your focus if needed, and find new resources and partnerships. (See also: Framework: Overview of 10 Steps)
Benefits to Conducting a Needs Assessment
- The most prevalent determinants–or risk and protective factors;
- The factors most likely to change as a result of an intervention;
- The factors your community is most able to change.
Working through this step helps clarify what your programming should accomplish and ensures that you select the right group to serve and the strategies that will work best for them.
What to Include in a Needs Assessment
- Teen pregnancy, STI, and HIV rates, and prevalent sexual risk-taking behaviors
- Determinants (i.e., risk and protective factors) most linked with teen pregnancy, STI, and HIV, and sexual risk-taking behaviors
- Existing resources address adolescent sexual and reproductive health
- Potential partners and support from the community so you can start your work
Tasks for a Needs Assessment
- Set up a diverse group to collect and analyze data.
- Build a catalog of the data you collect.
- Collect the necessary data.
- Identify current, community-specific information on teen behaviors (e.g., sexual activity, teen birth rate, STI and HIV rates) and risk and protective factors (including youth assets).
- Assess the resources available in the community to support adolescent sexual and reproductive health.
- Compile and analyze the data you have collected.
- Establish your priorities according to what the data say.
- Focus your work by identifying the priority population you intend to serve.
Healthy Teen Network Resources
- Capacity-Building Assistance, Training, TA, and Other Services
- Youth 360° Resource Center
- Evidence-Based Resource Center
- Framework: Overview of 10 Steps
- See our full list of Healthy Teen Network Assessment resources
- What’s In Your Toolbox? GTO Webinar Series
- Tip Sheet: Best Practices for Conducting a Needs and Resource Assessment: Tip Sheet
- Tip Sheet: Best Practices for Community Engagement
- Engaging Community: Collaborating to Leverage Funding and Resources: A Strategic Plan to Reduce Teen Births in Baltimore City
- Strategic Plan to Reduce Teen Births in Baltimore City
- Improving Outcomes for Pregnant and Parenting Teens: An Environmental Scan of Services and Programs