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Community Readiness and Needs

Prior to implementing a childhood health promotion program, it is a good idea to first assess the community's readiness to embark on the initiative. Readiness includes:

  • Community knowledge of the issue
  • Willingness to take action
  • Leadership
  • Resources available to support the program's success

One study showed that a conducting a community readiness assessment has the potential to inspire social engagement, which can help build community support, ultimately increasing readiness for the program. This is particularly important in rural areas, where social connections are the fiber of the community.

In addition to assessing community readiness, a community needs assessment can be conducted to identify gaps and opportunities. The needs assessment can help a community determine what services are already being provided and what services are still needed.

Assessments of community readiness and need should engage a variety of stakeholders, including leadership, program staff, and community members. Involving community members directly can build engagement and ensure that a program is designed to reflect the community's perspective and needs. Early childhood health promotion programs require special attention to ensure that the needs and values of families in the community are reflected in the program's content and goals.

For more information on community needs assessments, visit the Conduct a Needs Assessment page of the Rural Community Health Toolkit.

For more information on community readiness, visit the Community Readiness Model page of the Rural Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Toolkit.

Resources to Learn More

Wisconsin Child Health Needs Assessment
Document
Outlines the process involved in performing a child health needs assessment in Wisconsin focused on identifying the inequities in child health and wellness in the state.
Organization(s): Wisconsin Partnership Program, UW- Madison School of Medicine and Public Health
Date: 5/2015

Childhood Obesity in a Rural Community: First Steps to Cultivating Change
Document
Highlights the use of the Community Readiness Model (CRM) implemented through interviews and surveys to assess the readiness of a southern, rural county to implement a childhood obesity program.
Author(s): Johnson, P.T., Montgomery, M., Clark, M., & Taylor, C.
Citation: Online Journal of Rural Nursing and Health Care, 17(2)
Date: 2017