A Human Services Program should be tailored according to the needs and the strengths of the community in which it serves. In order to identify the needs and strengths of a community an assessment needs to be done. This assessment can take shape in many forms, such as results of surveys, demographic data, including census records, and even partner responses to questions about the community they serve. Assessments can include focuses on town meetings, mailed surveys, and interviews with local stakeholders.
When there is an understanding of the community’s needs it enables developers to characterize effectively and respond to the community with the appropriate interventions. The first step is to gather information regarding opinions and attitudes of the proposed problems, issues, and, opportunities. Then it must be determined how the individual citizen ranks problems, issues and opportunities in the order of urgency and importance. Allow the people to have a voice in determining goals, policies, and the order of priorities.
Provide support for initiatives from the community. Evaluate the current policies and programs. True problem-solving is to find the common or neutral ground without being afraid to disagree. It is better to build better solutions, not just bigger ones. Identifying common goals is fundamental in achieving better results for all. One must use collaboration as one of the main strategies. Identify which citizens are being served in each system and locate the gaps in coordination, and cooperation of existing services.
Doing this can give the community a push to improve and address disproportioned issues. Collaborate and build relationships across the different systems using different philosophies and mandates. The community participants need to have a clear sense of shared purpose and involvement with one another. Practice implicating policies. It is good practice to cross-train and coordinate the protocols and policies. Use the existing data as a baseline.
The data can be statistical or case-based information that identifies where current practices do and do not serve the interests of everyone equally. Collaboratively requires resources, including time, space, support, and even money. There are inevitably issues that will arise when working across these systems. In closing, find what works best for the community according to the individual needs. Practice to see what works and what does not. Put in place, the human resources that work best for the community.