Human Service Needs Assessment Results Released

CLEARFIELD – A broad examination of the human service resources and needs in Clearfield County has been completed for the first time in the form of a needs assessment. The project was carried out from July 2007 through June 2008 and incorporated discussion groups and an online survey. The project was funded by Human Services Development Funds, supported by the Clearfield County Board of Commissioners, and administered by Central Pennsylvania Community Action.

The needs assessment was designed to gather information about human services in Clearfield County by tapping the knowledge of the Clearfield County Assessment Team. Discussion groups were held with stakeholders in the human service system, and a survey was conducted of Clearfield County residents, including consumers and providers of human services.

According to the assessment, many programs in Clearfield County were determined to be healthy and significant to the community. Preschool and senior programs, mental health services, and faith-based programs were all perceived as strong resources in the area. The solid relationships and willingness of human service agencies to work together was also determined to be a valuable asset.

The most significant community needs identified were in the area of economic security. There is a need for more good jobs with health care benefits in the county. Affordable housing was also identified as an area of need. Other areas of need included transportation services (particularly in the more rural parts of the county), services and programs to address issues related to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, and the accessibility of quality, affordable child care.

The group established recommendations for human service agencies in the county to consider as they continue to serve the Clearfield County community. Recommendations included joining forces with the economic development community to attract good jobs, develop a county-wide transportation plan that would improve services in rural areas, consider community newsletters as a means of communicating information, increase the availability of quality childcare, and to further study the extent to which people are excluded from services due to categorical eligibility requirements.

Discussion group participants expressed their vision for the future of human services in Clearfield County to include a more integrated system that includes “one stop” service centers and a greater emphasis on web-based applications to make information more accessible. Participants also envisioned a human service system where access is not based on categorical requirements and universal access to human services is open to all Clearfield County residents in need.

The next step of the assessment will be to discuss the results with the Clearfield County Board of Commissioners and recommend the appointment of a task force to address the results and recommendations of the needs assessment. If you would like more information about the assessment, please contact Stacy LoCastro at 814-765-1551 or slocastro@cpcaa.net.

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