Community Assessment Handbook
A community assessment can take many forms and should be individualized. Be creative about using the model described in this handbook. Modify, build upon and refine it based on the reasons for undertaking an assessment; the availability of human and financial resources; and, the time line established for the completion of the assessment activities.
Today, virtually every community is seeking to develop better outcomes regarding the multitude of issues and challenges they face. This is particularly true, given increasingly limited resources. A community requires accurate, meaningful information on which to base its efforts. One of the first steps a community should take is to conduct a community assessment to gain information about its needs and resources (Bruner et al., 1993). An assessment also helps mobilize community members and key stakeholders to act on the information gathered.
The purpose of this manual is to articulate the key elements and process for conducting a community assessment. It is intended to provide a framework and tools for actively learning about a community's needs and strengths and then setting priorities. The manual describes a community assessment process from beginning to end and should serve as a guide rather than a definitive model. A community assessment can take many forms and should be individualized based on the specific needs and resources in the community (Bruner et al., 1993). Community workers and their communities should modify, build upon and refine this model based on their reasons for undertaking an assessment; the availability of human and financial resources; and, the time line established for the completion of the assessment activities.