Needs Analysis is essential in creating a sustainable business, and it will not only be essential for deciding on the type of childcare and business you choose to open, developing your business plan but will also be important in building considerations and staffing issues.
You need to have a good indication of childcare needs in your area, the existing and projected population and the local economic and employment trends. Due to widely varying and rapidly changing circumstances around the county, you will need to seek up-to-date information on your area from your local Childcare Committee, City/County Council and the Health Service Executive Pre-School Services at the time you are considering setting up.
The main reason for doing needs analysis is to prove the need and viability of your project . You or your community will need to determined if there is a need for a childcare service in your area. This identified need should assist in the assessment of which form this service should take. There are factors which you may consider to establish whether a Community service or Private enterprise is the most appropriate for your area:
1. What is the socio economic profile of your area?
2. Is there good community participation?
3. Is your group part of a larger organisation?
4. Do you wish to build on the community profile of your local area?
5. Do you wish to increase the community capacity in your local area?
6. Is there an available premises/site for community childcare in your local area?
7. What supports and expertise are available for a management committee?
8. What supports are available for staffing the service?
9. How will your service be funded?
1. Consider the childcare needs in your area.
2. Consider the economic background in the area
3. Consider viability of the service.
You need to be sure that a need exists for your intended childcare service. This involves analysis of the nature of the need, duplication concerns and demographics to advise you whether your idea is feasible. This information will assist you in developing your business plan. You may choose to carry out your own needs analysis or use the services of professional researchers.
Needs Analysis Guide for Childcare Services
The table below highlights the main areas for consideration in your needs analysis
The following are just some of the tools that can be used to conduct your needs analysis:
- Questionnaires – to parents whose children attend local primary schools, door to door in the local housing developments and to community services.
- Focus groups – parents of children attending local primary schools and parent and toddler groups.
- Interviews – one to one with existing providers, parents and representatives from local community and consumer and trade agencies and local authority agencies.
- Utilizing existing research - government publications, state and private sector enterprise support agencies, Childcare Committee, National Childcare Voluntary Organisations, consumer and trade agencies research, libraries and the Internet.
Remember, by compiling accurate needs analysis information at an early stage in the project development, you will be in a position to prove to outside agencies and investors that your needs analysis findings are valid.
Needs analysis is essential. If it is not conducted you might start a service for which there is no demand. Good needs analysis can have real benefits to your service both in the beginning and in the long term.
Interpreting the results of your needs analysis is equally as important as conducting the research in the first place. Sometimes, you may be too close to the project proposal to be unbiased; therefore, it may be helpful to seek the impartial opinion of an accountant, banker, professional adviser, support agency or even a friend who may have appropriate skills.