Organizers of a comprehensive assessment of the local United Way have set a completion date of early May.
A comprehensive picture of the strengths and weaknesses of local social services is a few months from being finished.
"I think we're going to find there are similar needs between the city and the county, but at the same time there may be differences," said Ed Meyen, executive vice chancellor at Kansas University and chair of the Douglas County Area Health and Human Services Needs Assessment's executive committee.
The assessment is a first-time, comprehensive effort to identify omissions or duplication of services. It will include a wealth of community information obtained through several surveys and personal interviews.
Members of a committee will make recommended changes when all information is gathered.
On Tuesday afternoon, members of the assessment executive committee outlined work to be completed.
Surveys of church groups and "community leaders," currently being conducted, should be finished by late February.
KU's Institute for Public Policy and Business Research already has completed three other surveys: Douglas County households; users of social services; and area social services agencies.
The surveys ask questions ranging from the types of services people need to whether they have trouble obtaining help.
Organizers have declined to discuss initial results of the three surveys that have been completed, saying the integrity of the assessment could be compromised. Results of all surveys will probably be available in early March, Meyen said.
When all surveys are complete, several "focus groups," including the members of the public, users of United Way agencies and agency representatives, will be asked to comment on the findings and propose possible courses of action to meet shortfalls and maintain strengths of current services.
A final report should be ready by early May.
The entire assessment is expected to cost about $25,000. Most of the project's cost will be tied to conducting surveys and paying for the KU institute's work, Meyen said.
Groups that have committed funding for the assessment are the cities of Eudora, Baldwin and Lawrence; Douglas County government; Eudora, Baldwin, Perry-Lecompton and Lawrence school districts; the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce; and the Rice Foundation.
The United Way is spearheading the assessment, but it will address United Way and non-United Way agencies.