The Evaluation Center recently completed a community needs assessment for the Land of Lincoln Legal Aid, a not-for-profit corporation that provides free civil legal services to low-income and senior residents in 65 counties in central and southern Illinois. Their core priorities include:
- safe and affordable housing,
- family safety and stability,
- consumer protection,
- income security, and
- the protection of low-income and senior residents from exploitation, fraud, and violence, and promotion of their independence.
The community needs assessment aimed to understand whether their current services match the needs of low-income and senior residents in their service area. The assessment was conducted between January and August, 2019.
The data collection took place in 20 counties that were systematically selected based on factors such as high poverty rate. The Evaluation Center collected the data for the needs assessment in three ways:
- A survey of current Land of Lincoln Legal Aid clients
- A survey of eligible community members in their service area
- Focus groups of community members in nine counties
The evaluation team developed the surveys (online & paper version), trained the organization staff members to administer the survey, and analyzed the quantitative data. The survey was aimed at understanding the breadth of civil legal issues that clients and community members may be experiencing (e.g., consumer protection, family safety & stability, health security, income security, education, housing, and utilities).
The evaluation team also conducted focus groups and analyzed the qualitative data. The focus group questions probed deeper at understanding the depth of civil legal issues in the community, including barriers and facilitators to access legal services.
As part of this partnership, the evaluation team worked closely with Land of Lincoln Legal Aid leadership to make sense of the findings and inform their decision making process for service delivery and organizational resource allocation – all to better serve their service population.
Land of Lincoln Legal Aid has been using the results of the needs assessment to inform their future strategies across their priority areas. The organization plans to make the full report publicly available by summer 2020.