The Mifflin Juniata County Human Service Needs Assessment project began in 2004 to identify critical areas where the assistance of the Human Services Department would be most beneficial for individuals, families, and the community. Previously, funding decisions were made primarily based on outdated statistics.
The Department recognized that the needs vocalized in the community were not always the ones being funded. Reliance on the perceptions of a few regarding where state and federal human service funding could best be used was not the best way to distribute funding in the community. It also became apparent that a majority of funding in the Mifflin-Juniata region was being placed into emergency-related services rather than into prevention and treatment. This manner of funding services was and continues to be outdated as more state and federal systems are shifting to performance-based monitoring and outcome-based measurements. Therefore, the Mifflin-Juniata County Human Service Department began to reevaluate the way services are provided to the most vulnerable populations in the community. Part of this evaluation includes determining what the highest priorities are for the community.
For the betterment of the whole community, it is the desire of the Mifflin-Juniata County Human Services Department, under the direction of the Mifflin and Juniata County Commissioners, to provide services that meet the needs of individuals and families in the most cost-effective and practical manner.
A financial reallocation in 2004 from the Human Services Development Fund (HSDF) made funding for the needs assessment possible. The Mifflin-Juniata County Human Services Department collaborated with Penn State University to create a six-tiered approach to the needs assessment. These six levels include:
- A random-sample general population survey of members of the community
- A strategic planning/team building session conducted with agency service providers
- Numerous community-based focus groups
- A survey of program clients
- Collection of relevant secondary data
- Development of system-wide recommendations
The Needs Assessment document was envisioned to be:
- A vision of what the Mifflin-Juniata Human Services Department can become and contribute to the community.
- A dynamic document that will assist human services agencies across the two-county area to focus their priorities and help them to achieve their goals.
- A way to measure the future effectiveness of programs that are receiving funding from the Human Services Department.
- A guidepost for determining where funding is allocated in the community.