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ASSESSING YOUR COMMUNITY'S NEEDS

The key to learning your community’s needs on underage drinking prevention is to do a needs assessment. A needs assessment is the first step in SAMHSA’s five-step Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF), a community-based approach to prevention. The SPF uses a step-by-step process to help communities identify, manage, and evaluate their substance abuse prevention and mental health needs. Communities follow these five steps:

1. Assessment - Profiling needs and response capacity. 2. Capacity - Mobilizing and building needed capacity. 3. Planning - Developing a prevention plan. 4. Implementation - Using programs, policies, and strategies based on what is known to be effective. 5. Evaluation - Considering program effectiveness and sustaining what works well.

To help organizations conduct needs assessments and launch effective prevention programs, SAMHSA’s Communities That Care Community Planning System offers a valuable approach to creating a safer community.

The most important reason to do a needs assessment is to make sure you understand the concerns of community members from their points of view. Their priorities should be your priorities.