Evaluate the Findings
This last step is the culmination of your group’s effort—the end of one conversation and the beginning of another. What did the interviews, focus groups, and surveys tell you? The answers will guide the rest of your work in making your community more responsive to crime victims with disabilities.
The data the group collects should point you to key conclusions and relevant patterns, but usually include a few surprises as well. Take the time to look closely at the responses you receive, consider any issues raised that you had not thought about previously, and chart the direction the project will take according to what you have learned.
List the gaps, barriers, needs, and themes that emerge from the assessment. Once you are satisfied that you have identified the major issues and needs in your community, you and your partners can summarize your findings and recommendations in a report and share it with an advisory committee, board members, key stakeholders, and potential funders. This document will become the basis for your action planning.
The pilot sites used the following process:
- Separately list each stakeholder group’s responses to questions asked during the focus groups, interviews, and surveys. (See Recruit Participants for potential stakeholder groups.) For example—
- Fear that the information would not be kept confidential.
- Lack of awareness of available resources.
- Negative experiences with law enforcement, Family Crisis Services, and other service providers.
- Lack of trust in local crisis or law enforcement services.
- Make several copies of the document. Then ask at least two people (staff or partners) to independently review and make stakeholder-specific lists of the following types of information:
- Gaps, barriers, or issues identified by participants.
- Unusual, odd, or unexpected answers.
- Core themes that are connected to broader issues.
- Have the reviewers meet to discuss similarities and differences in what each noted. Having multiple reviewers identify issues using the same data can help check the human tendency to pay attention to what is more personally relevant, problematic, or interesting.
- Decide whether the gaps, barriers, needs, or issues have clearly emerged or if the data need further review. For example, the reviewers may next compare the responses of the stakeholder groups. What are the differences and similarities between how crime victims who are Deaf and crime victims with disabilities perceive victim services? How do law enforcement staff and victim services staff agree and disagree about how best to work together?
- Work with your partners to develop a set of long- and short-term goals and recommendations. For example—
- Once satisfied that you have fully identified the issues and needs within your community and discussed which ones to address, summarize those findings in a needs assessment report. This report will focus on what you have learned from needs assessment participants, key findings, and recommendations for action.
- Overview of the needs assessment and project partners involved.
- Methods used to gather information (e.g., focus groups, interviews, surveys).
- Participants (include number and type).
- Strengths and limitations of the needs assessment.
- Key findings: What did you learn?
- Recommendations: What do you want to do (short and long term)?
- Assessment questions (in an appendix).
Stakeholder group: Crime victims with disabilities
Question 1: What are your thoughts about why persons with disabilities may not ask for help when abuse occurs?
Response: At Family Crisis Services, persons with disabilities expressed—
Use this process for each question. When finished, your document will list responses to each question by each stakeholder group. Do not worry about redundancy at this point. List a response as many times as it is made to help you identify critical issues.
Sometimes community needs assessments bring out conflicting information. Persons with disabilities may share perspectives different from disability service providers, who may make suggestions different from crisis service agencies. List all of the responses. If some perspectives are actually at complete odds with each other, enlist the assistance of your advisory committee in developing a way to address differing perspectives.
The lists can change based on the goals of your needs assessment. When finished, each reviewer will have a set of stakeholder-specific gaps, barriers, issues, needs, and themes.
As a result of their needs assessment, Family Crisis Services staff and partners knew that in their strategic plan, they would address recommendations to provide education and training to all stakeholders: their own victim services staff, law enforcement, disability service providers, and persons with disabilities and those who are Deaf.
Your report should include the following information: