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franklin county times

Community Action Agency seeks citizen input with survey

For the Community Action Agency of Northwest Alabama to continue offering services the community needs, it’s important for the organization to demonstrate justification for state and federal funding. One way to accomplish that is a survey to assess those community needs, and the agency is currently seeking citizen input.

“It helps the state and federal government to see the funding is still needed in an area,” explained Tammy McDaniel, executive director of the Community Action Agency of Northwest Alabama, which serves Franklin, Colbert and Lauderdale counties.

McDaniel said the agency is required by state and federal mandates, every third year, to compile a community needs assessment. In 2013, she said the agency faced challenges getting the input they hoped for from the community. “It’s very hard to find the resources to be able to go into the community, so we had some difficulty,” McDaniel said. “It wasn’t really the best we could have turned out, but we did what we could.”

This year, for the first time, the survey is online, available at www.caanw.org.

“The real thing we need to know is what people perceive the needs are in their community,” McDaniel said. “I would like to emphasize that we need to think about is, not so much what the media says we need, but when we look around, what do we really see? We really need to know what the people perceive.”

The survey asks respondents to choose their top concerns in their neighborhood, from selections like jobs, adult education, reading and writing skills, safety, affordable housing, prisoner re-entry, teen pregnancy, crime, services for senior citizens and services for veterans. It also asks for basic demographic information.

McDaniel said the survey will hopefully help the agency find validation that they are indeed focusing on the problems impacting the community and offering the services that are truly needed. It is will also allow the agency to demonstrate to the state and federal government that their funding is needed in the communities served.

The survey will be open for several months, but McDaniel encouraged people to fill it out as soon as possible. People of all income levels are encouraged to respond.

“It’s not just for certain populations; it’s for all residents in Franklin County,” McDaniel said.

For now the survey is strictly online, but McDaniel said under-reporting areas might at some point have access to a hardcopy version.

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