How Do We Know Which Vital Services Families Can’t Reach and Why?
How to 100% Training Series: Part 2
The 100% New Mexico County Survey provides local and state leaders with data illustrating service barriers that harm families.
Katherine Ortega Courtney, PhD and Dominic Cappello
We knew it would be heavy lifting when we started the 100% New Mexico initiative in 2019. It would take a collaborative and data-driven process to ensure ten vital services across an entire county. We knew we had to develop a way for each county initiative to see for themselves the status and availability of the ten vital services we sought to make accessible to 100% of families. This process started simply, supporting each local initiative by asking their families through our survey process, “Do you need services, and if so, can you access them?” The answers coming from communities across a county would be alarming.
Step by step, innovation appears
Conducting a community survey to assess residents’ access to services involves several key steps to ensure the survey is well-designed, effectively administered, and provides meaningful insights. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through the process of implementing our 100% New Mexico County Survey process:
Define Objectives: The 100% New Mexico County Survey aims to measure residents’ need for ten vital services, the challenges accessing them, and the specific barriers encountered.
Identify Target Audience: The target audience for the 100% New Mexico County Survey is parents and guardians of infants, children, students, and out-of-school youth. With support from the Anna, Age Eight Institute, surveys can also be customized for other populations, such as youth, caregiving grandparents, foster parents, and elders.
Develop Survey Questions: The 100% New Mexico County Survey has survey questions that have been used effectively in many counties across New Mexico.
Choose Survey Distribution Methods: The 100% New Mexico County Survey has been distributed online, through schools, community, and faith-based organizations, sporting events, in front of supermarkets, and through social media.
Data Collection: The 100% New Mexico County Survey process uses a variety of activities, including using paper surveys and collecting them when respondents are done answering the questions. All the surveys are then sent to NMSU’s Center for Community Analysis for tabulation, data checking, and review.
Data Analysis: The NMSU’s Center for Community Analysis will do the initial analysis to ensure that there is a good representation of county residents based on race, household income level, and geographic location.
Interpret Results: The 100% New Mexico County Survey, published as a report, is designed to be reviewed by participants in the initiative’s ten action teams, identifying service barriers and prioritizing which ones to focus on first. Interpret the data in the context of your objectives. Look for disparities in access to services among different demographic groups or neighborhoods. Identify strengths and areas that need improvement. For counties with service barriers across the majority of service sectors, one strategy to increase access is the development of the 100% Family Center: One Stop Service Hub, which can provide services on-site, online, and through navigators who link family members to local or regional service organizations.
Report Findings: Initiative leaders explain the significance of the results and potential implications for community development. The 100% Summit is ideal for presenting the survey findings to elected leaders and community stakeholders.
Feedback and Action: Share the survey results with relevant stakeholders, such as local government, community organizations, and service providers. Collaboratively discuss strategies to address areas of concern and improve residents’ access to services. This is where the conversation turns into action and results. The development of 100% Family Centers and community schools as service hubs are two key strategies for local initiatives to consider.
Follow-Up Surveys: Consider conducting follow-up surveys to track changes and improvements after a certain period. This can help measure the impact of initiatives undertaken based on the initial survey’s findings. The 100% New Mexico County Survey is only one of many surveys that could be implemented (or reviewed) to learn about children, students, and families and their challenges. You can do focus groups with families and youth, as well as providers, to learn more about challenges accessing services.
Maintain Transparency: Throughout the process, maintain transparency with residents about the survey’s purpose, the confidentiality of responses, and how the results will be used. The survey is posted on the 100% New Mexico Initiative website to promote transparency and action.
Remember that community engagement is key to the success of your survey. Involve local leaders, organizations, and residents in the planning and implementation stages to ensure your survey accurately reflects the community’s needs and experiences. Please contact the Anna, Age Eight Institute with any questions, concerns, or bold ideas for improving the process.
Those engaged in the surveying can reflect on these questions.
- What information might you need from the Anna, Age Eight Institute to feel comfortable with the entire survey development and implementation process?
- What are some ways you might wish to customize the survey design to meet local needs?
- What are the languages spoken in your county and do you need to translate the survey?
Join the discussion with other initiative members
If you’d like to join in the conversation across New Mexico, you can go directly to the 100% New Mexico Training Center and explore the “How to 100%” course. There, you will find a course on all initiative activities and a general discussion area connecting you with other initiative champions across New Mexico. For a view of the entire initiative’s progress please visit our research briefs.