The Planning Council serves as a regional resource by helping communities throughout Hampton Roads implement effective strategies for those issues that cut across jurisdictional boundaries. We administer a variety of local, state and federal programs to bring the highest quality of care to children and families in our communities and advocate for initiatives that benefit the region.

Since its inception, The Planning Council has been recognized as a community convener around human services issues.  From children’s issues to homelessness to access to healthcare, The Planning Council has identified issues of regional concern, and brought together the decision makers and resources to address the challenges. With expertise in community needs assessments, research and evaluation, data analysis, implementing new tools of technology, and strategic planning, our staff partners with local governments and businesses, non-profit agencies and the faith-based community to address the most vulnerable populations’ needs.

The Planning Council has a long-established reputation for effective organizing and outreach to strengthen communities and neighborhoods.  The Planning Council established and maintained successful community collaborations, such as TurningPoint, CINCH and the Community Health Center.  The Council most recently has developed a board for a regional residential substance abuse recovery facility.

Civic engagement has been a focus for The Planning Council.  Staff from The Planning Council has conducted numerous focus groups throughout the region for a variety of organizations and initiatives.  For example, Council staff conducted focus groups for Chesapeake Integrated Behavioral Healthcare, Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia, the Chesapeake Health Department, the Blocker Foundation and The Up Center.

The Council has facilitated the development of strategic plans with the leadership of a diverse number of non-profits and local government entities, including the Chesapeake Public Library System, the Norfolk SPCA, the Portsmouth Economic Development Authority and the Norfolk Interagency Consortium for At-risk Youth and Children.  The Planning Council also facilitated the roll out of the report of the Norfolk Commission on Reducing Poverty to local government staff, key external partners and citizen stakeholders.

The Council has collaborated closely with several hospitals throughout its history and, most recently, conducted a MAPP assessment for Chesapeake Regional Medical Center in 2018.  Since 2003, Sentara Health has contracted with The Planning Council to manage its H.O.P.E. Fund, an internal financial assistance program for employees in crises that expends approximately $200,000 annually. For several years, Bon Secours and The Planning Council have collaborated around health and homelessness with the goal of improving access to medical and dental care for Norfolk’s homeless population.

Since 2000, The Planning Council has developed and published the Investment in Priorities report on community social visions and indicators.  This report is an environmental scan of the region, looking at the performance of Hampton Roads in comparison to the state.  The data stimulates a community conversation between stakeholders, providers and citizens to set priorities and measure progress. By monitoring key human service indicators – Jobs, Education, Neighborhoods, Wellness, Inclusion, Safety Net Programs and At-Risk Populations – and demonstrating trends on how well the region is doing in these areas, The Planning Council, together with regional partners, can identify critical community issues and develop a coordinated approach to solving the region’s most pressing human service problems.  The data is now updated on an ongoing basis and available on the organization’s main website or in hard copy by request.

Within the Hampton Roads’ communities, The Planning Council has conducted all types of Needs Assessments.  These assessments provide an in-depth understanding of the most important needs of that group or community, and guides future action.  Taking a look at the resources, capacity and gaps in services and care, the most vital needs are prioritized to address when making changes.

Since 2007, The Planning Council has conducted seven community health needs assessments, utilizing the Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP) assessment tool. The MAPP assessment builds on all community collaboration to assess the public health system and prioritize issues while identifying resources to address them.  The Planning Council completed three assessments for the departments of Public Health in Chesapeake, Hampton, Portsmouth and Charlottesville.  In 2009, the Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community contracted with The Planning Council to carry out the MAPP assessment for Suffolk.  In 2011 a community needs assessment was conducted for the Virginia Eastern Shore for the Eastern Shore Community Services Board, and in 2014 and 2018, the Chesapeake Health Department and Chesapeake Regional Medical Center collaborated to engage The Planning Council to conduct a limited version of the MAPP assessment. Most recently, the Thomas Jefferson Health District engaged The Planning Council to develop a Community Health Needs Assessment, working with coalitions and partners in five localities to define strategic priorities.

Some positive results from previous MAPP assessments conducted by The Planning Council have been:

  • The establishment of a federally-qualified community health center in the South Norfolk section of Chesapeake to expand access to affordable health care;
  • The co-location of health department and H.E.L.P. Free Clinic services within the Department of Social Services in Hampton to increase access to affordable care;
  • The establishment of the first Nurse Family Partnership in 2012 in Western Tidewater (including Suffolk) to respond to the need for extended health home models;
  • Expanded obesity prevention and nutrition programs in Western Tidewater to address the high rates of diabetes and other chronic diseases.

Over the past 80 years, The Planning Council has provided planning assistance under contract to the following federal agencies: Administration on Children, Youth and Families; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Bureau of Primary Care; Department of Transportation; National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering; National Endowment for the Humanities; The Rockefeller Foundation; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; Administration on Aging; Office of Human Development; and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Child and Adult Care Food Program.

The State has contracted with The Planning Council to develop programs for: Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services; Virginia Department for the Aging; Virginia Department of Health; the Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation; Virginia Department of Social Services; Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services; Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and Public Policy. The Council also executes contracts with city governments, school administrations and public authorities, in addition to private foundations, the United Way and its affiliated agencies.