Volunteers of America Southwest (VOA Southwest) provides innovative, results-oriented programming using a therapeutic care and educational approach. VOA Southwest offers programs for vulnerable individuals and families including addiction recovery services, veterans’ services, K-8 charter schools, mental health services, early head start/preschool, and supportive housing.
Brodsky Research conducted a community needs assessment to determine what resources were available and what additional resources were needed to fill service gaps in San Bernardino and Imperial Counties. The work fulfilled VOA Southwest’s requirement to conduct a Head Start community needs assessment every five years to ensure that the appropriate services are provided to their target population.
Brodsky Research created community profiles of both counties using economic, poverty, education, housing and homelessness, and health care data and also gathered information from community organizations and Early Head Start parents. Data analysis lead to three key recommendations for VOA Southwest:
- Expand availability of Early Head Start in VOA Southwest service areas, and particularly for center-based slots to address the identified gap between child care need and availability.
- Ensure that services match the diverse needs of the community by (1) continuing to ensure that staff reflect community diversity and are comfortable promoting equitable practices, (2) highlighting available mental health services, and (3) engaging with parents regularly to obtain their feedback.
- Look for opportunities for increased collaborative partnerships to efficiently fund early care and education and ensure smooth transitions for young children and their families from early education to transitional kindergarten settings.