Every three years, Great Rivers United Way publishes the findings of their COMPASS Now Report.
Healthcare officials in six counties come together to identify the needs of local communities.
United Way Worldwide created COMPASS Now as a pilot project in 1994 and asked communities to incorporate the report into their area. Great Rivers United Way recognized the need to identify needs and worked with partners in their six county region to implement it.
"The reason that United Way raised their hand and said yes years ago was because we want to fund and work on problems together, but until you identify them, you are kind of working in the dark," said Mary Kay Wolf, Executive Director of Great Rivers United Way.
The report includes data gathered over two and a half years through random household surveys, convenience sampling, and focus groups.
Wolf says this year's top regional needs are not drastically different than in the past; however, they are more in-depth. The top five needs include more livable wage jobs, improved access to mental healthcare, reduced drug and alcohol misuse and abuse, increased wraparound support throughout the lifespan, and increased inclusion of socially diverse people.
"Increased inclusion of socially diverse people was a new need we really haven't seen before," said Lindsay Menard, Chair of the COMPASS Steering Committee. "I just think it is really refreshing to see that people are recognizing that as a need, especially in our current political and environmental climate. I feel like people are really polarized right now."
Wolf says that health officials and medical facilities are required to do a community needs assessment by law. The COMPASS Now Report combines the multiple assessments into one scheduled data collection.
The findings will be used to make changes in local communities. Healthcare providers can shift their focus to improving certain areas, and Great Rivers United Way can prioritize specific programs for funding and coordination based on the needs identified.
Buffalo County, Houston County, La Crosse County, Monroe County, Trempealeau County, and Vernon County are all part of Great Rivers United Way and included in the COMPASS Now Report. County-specific reports are expected to be published in coming weeks.
To see the full COMPASS Now 2018 Report, visit the Great Rivers United Way website.