1. Prioritization of ideas and needs is crucial to an effective program. In detail, explain how you might define and identify the priority of needs for your program. Specifically, discuss what procedures (qualitative and/or quantitative) you would use to prioritize and identify what people/positions you might utilize for these procedures.
The first step in identifying the potential needs of individuals entering into the program would be to assess those entering into it with the use of a needs assessment. Surveying with interviews in person with those who are going to enter the program would allow it to address multiple issues at once. What works for one minor child might not for another, but with the necessary information, it could be possible to identify subgroups within the population attending the program. If there are several different children who all share the same needs, they could taken aside into activities that better meet their needs. Having these sorts of specialized activities within the main program could allow all of the children to flourish together, despite having different needs.
The right individual to utilize for the process of evaluating the participants in the program would be a licensed, child psychologist. Research conducted by DeAngelis (2001) suggests that psychologists who aid in these types of programs tend to be interested in the overall wellbeing of the child, and not just in their academic performance. These professionals can identify many of the challenges a child might face in terms of educational difficulties, emotional challenges and potential social issues. As a member of the team, these professionals can also provide a plan of action in terms of what issues are most pressing for each program participant.
In addition to a child psychologist, having a social worker to consult with could also prove to be invaluable concerning providing any additional funding that might be needed to provide additional resources for a child within the program. This person brings the potential for action to be taken if need be in a variety of different ways that can help program members in the form of mental health assistance, conflict resolution and possibly even alternative education opportunities.
2. Explain times when a highly structured needs assessment is critical to use. Explain how you might use a needs assessment within your final project.
Deshler, Hock, Pulvers, and Schumaker (2001) conducted research which leads them to believe that after-school programs lead to students’ lives improving, both in the classroom and at home. Assessing a child's needs both inside the classroom and out will allow for a much more effective strategy in providing children with a healthy outlet for their energy and any frustrations they might have. Much of the time having a safe place where they can express themself seems to be what many children need.
A needs assessment could be utilized on this project as a way to allow the children themselves to participate in constructing the different aspects of the program. Specific activities that might seem fun to an adult might not sit too well with children, and balancing program participants want to do alongside something constructive is always a win-win scenario. Taking the time necessary to evaluate the data gleaned from needs assessments with the assistance of professionals would likely yield the greatest chance for maximizing success for program participants.
Taking the needs identified by a needs assessment and then comparing it against the available education and activity plans would seem to yield the best results possible for program participants. Coordinating additional services to either help children arrive at the program, or get back home afterward could be necessary in some instances. Specialized diets that include food allergies would need to be adhered to, and of course, there are religious observations to take note of. Creating a day-to-day plan of activities with all of these different needs being adhered to would be of the utmost importance.
Having a somewhat linear plan regarding what will be shared with program participants is vital in terms of them being able to make the most of the time available with them in the program. While it is not always possible to strictly abide by a linear plan, it is nice to have some idea of what the activities that have already been done and when they were done.
DeAngelis, T. (2001). What makes a good afterschool program? American Psychological Association, 32 (3). Retrieved April 4, 2014, from http://www.apa.org/monitor/mar01/afterschool.aspx
Deshler, D., Hock, M., Pulvers, K., & Scumaker, J. (2001) The effects of an after-school tutoring program on the academic performance of at-risk students and students with LD. Remedial and Special Education, 22 (3), 172-176. Retrieved from http://www.diversity-project.org/pdf%20files/The%20Effects%20of%20an%20After-School%20Tut%20article.pdf