Introduction to the community needs assessment guidelines

A comprehensive Community Needs Assessment includes:

  • Evidence of the need for new licensed child places in the network including identification of children who are not currently participating, who have indicated that they would attend the proposed service;
  • Evidence of the need for the type of service being proposed;
  • Evidence that the opening hours and days of the proposed service will meet the community need; and
  • Information from the other ECE services in the area indicating their current waiting times, if any
  • Completing a robust Community Needs Assessment will determine the type of early childhood provision, if any, that is needed in your community. The information you gather will assist you in the decision-making process.

Other useful information to inform your group’s decision making and support your application includes:

  • A demographic breakdown of the community that the service will be located in. The Ministry of Education holds substantial demographic information.
  • Evidence that the group has engaged with and are supported by the targeted communities in the area;
  • Written confirmation from appropriate community agencies indicating their support for the proposed service and its ability to meet community needs i.e. Plunket, REAP, Promoting Participation Project providers, health and social service organisations; and
  • Information about significant changes that will impact on the community i.e. the opening or closure of a significant employer or the development of a residential area aimed at young families.

Identifying early childhood educational needs through a Community Needs Assessment is an important activity that requires a huge commitment from the group. While word of mouth can be helpful in generating ideas, a Community Needs Assessment provides comprehensive, consistent and evidence-based documentation of the needs of the community.

The purpose of these guidelines is to clarify the type of information being requested, to support you to engage with the target communities in the most appropriate and effective way, and to provide examples and templates for collecting and analysing information collected.

You will need to adapt some templates depending on whether you are an existing service intending to increase spaces, or intending to establish a new service


Before you begin consultation with your community, prepare an action plan that covers all the work you need to consider. See Section 1 - Project Planning.

Community needs assessment guidelines planning flowchart.   

This flow chart shows the steps you need to move through.

Last updated: 21 May 2015