ECFE Community Needs Assessment


The purpose of this page is to provide guidance and resources to help districts complete their ECFE community needs assessment, as required by Minnesota Statutes, section 124D.13. By July 15 of each year, districts submit a report to the Minnesota Department of Education demonstrating their completion of the assessment. It is recommended that you tie your needs assessment to broader initiatives (e.g. World's Best Workforce requirements, PreK-3rd Grade initiative, ECFE 2019-24 Enhancement Areas, community initiatives, etc.). If you have a school or schools identified for comprehensive or targeted support and improvement (CSI or TSI), it is strongly encouraged that you connect your ECFE community needs assessment work with your comprehensive needs assessment (see ESSA tab below for more information).

This page is organized by three sets of tabs:
1: Introduction set of tabs to introduce the topic and provide general information.
2: Resources for Planning, Conducting and Reporting Your Needs Assessment set of tabs for accessing valuable resources aimed at conducting a needs assessment.
3: Strategies for Conducting Your Needs Assessment set of tabs helps explain each requirement of the needs assessment and provides some strategies to help you conduct your needs assessment so that it meets ECFE statutory requirements.
4: Results set of tabs includes documents related to needs assessment submissions, ranging from sample submissions to summaries of results.

Resources for Planning, Conducting and Reporting Your Needs Assessment


Each year, ECFE programs must submit data that shows their response to the community needs assessment requirements. Since there are no changes to the reporting requirements, the guidance for 2023-24 is similar to previous years. Importantly, as with previous years, you are not submitting your CNA data, but simply a narrative or description about what you did in order to demonstrate your response to the community needs assessment requirements.

It is also important to note that your CNA process does not need to be the same year after year. One year you may decide on a comprehensive needs assessment while another year you may just be focusing on one component. For example, if your time or resources are limited and you have not gathered the data you wanted for your needs assessment, consider conducting a basic needs assessment where you just respond to the three items listed in Minnesota statutes (1. New and underserved populations you identified, 2. Child and family risk factors you identified, and 3. Parenting education needs identified.). For specific examples, see the examples in the "Strategies for Conducting Your Needs Assessment" set of tabs below.

Just like your work in your district and communities, MDE works every year to learn about your needs and make improvements to the community needs assessment process, including providing new resources and better guidance. Just like previous years, additional questions on the survey where you submit your findings have been included for 2023-24. The additional questions this year focus on programming and services. See the State Reporting tab above for the link to the data submission survey and for the additional questions.

A needs assessment is an essential part of your program's quality and effectiveness and should be conducted every year (note that assessing needs is built into ECFE's structure, as parenting educators have always assessed the learning needs of parents). Again, it is important to note that your community needs assessment does not need to be the same every year (e.g., there is no need/requirement to conduct a survey every year). The focus, intensity, and other elements may be different year to year, especially if you have tied your needs assessment to things like program goals, program evaluation, district goals, and/or community initiatives. Make sure the goal of high-quality, responsive programming is driving your needs assessment process, as opposed to an approach where the goal is meeting a state requirement. With this in mind, the state reporting of your community needs assessment is just a part of your community needs assessment process (depending on the goals and scope of your needs assessment).

Program Evaluation: The Five-Tiered Approach
At a minimum, a needs assessment should be tied to program goals or program activities. For example, needs assessment information guides your work in designing programming or focusing outreach efforts. A needs assessment can also be an element of broader program evaluation efforts. The resource below is an example of how a needs assessment and program evaluation tie together.
Click Here

Strategies for Conducting Your Needs Assessment


In this set of tabs, the focus is on strategies for conducting your needs assessment. In particular, tabs are designated for the three required components of the needs assessment



Included in this set of tabs are examples of submissions from districts and summaries of results.