Human Services Needs Assessment: A Call to Action
Since the turn of the century, significant changes have impacted Monmouth County’s demographic profile. Our residents have become more diverse with an increasing immigrant population, and our citizens are aging at a rate greater than the state and country.
While Monmouth County enjoys a socio-economic status well above most other New Jersey counties, many of our residents still struggle to meet basic needs. In addition, our County is not immune to the pressing challenges facing most American communitites, including addiction, mental illness, homelessness, food insecurity, childcare concerns and transportation/infrastructure resources.
The County had not undertaken a fresh, formal look at the current needs of our residents, how they were being met, and how current resources are organized and used to meet these needs since 1998.
In 2016, the County engaged JANUS Solutions to conduct a Human Services Needs Assessment. This undertaking would provide a critically needed look at current strengths, needs, aspirations, service gaps and resources. It would offer a roadmap for improvement to serve all County residents more effectively now and in the future.
The needs assessment drew upon:
- Extensive data sources
- Guidance by a steering committee of community stakeholders and public officials
- More than 1100 residents’ voices recorded through
- individual interviews
- focus groups
- community surveys
What did the assessment find?
- Increasing immigrant population:
- 14% of residents are foreign born and 18% speak a language other than English at home
- Difficulty finding translators for an increasing Haitian population
- Residents aging at rate greater than state and country
- 16.1% age 65+
- 1,287 raising grandchildren
- 9.3% of residents (or 58,680) have food insecurity, but 23% of eligible children are not enrolled in free lunch program
- 30% of households earn less than $50,000/year
- 30% suicides completed under age 18
- 2nd highest admittance to substance abuse treatment in NJ in 2015
- Educational levels vary across the county
- Transportation limited, especially in western side of County
- Social isolation among many young single mothers and seniors
- Community sharing, education and resource navigation
- Innovation and collaboration
- Meet service needs that were previously not being met
The Board of Freeholders accepted these recommendations and created Monmouth ACTS to move the Needs Assessment from report to reality.