2022 Edition

Outreach Services (CA-OS) 5: Drop-In Centers

Drop-in centres for individuals experiencing homelessness provide basic services in a safe, supportive, minimally-intrusive environment.
NA The organization does not provide a drop-in centre for individuals experiencing homelessness.

Currently viewing: OUTREACH SERVICES (CA-OS)



Outreach Services identify and engage youth, adults, and families experiencing homelessness as a first step to accepting care for immediate health and safety needs, gaining access to community services and resources, taking steps toward community integration, and connecting to safe and stable housing.
All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, as indicated by full implementation of the practices outlined in the Practice Standards.
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality; or
  • Procedures need strengthening; or
  • With few exceptions, procedures are understood by staff and are being used; or
  • For the most part, established timeframes are met; or
  • Proper documentation is the norm and any issues with individual staff members are being addressed through performance evaluations and training; or
  • Active client participation occurs to a considerable extent.
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards. Service quality or program functioning may be compromised; e.g.,
  • Procedures and/or case record documentation need significant strengthening; or
  • Procedures are not well-understood or used appropriately; or
  • Timeframes are often missed; or
  • Several client records are missing important information; or
  • Client participation is inconsistent. 
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • No written procedures, or procedures are clearly inadequate or not being used; or 
  • Documentation is routinely incomplete and/or missing.      
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Procedures for referring individuals to services
  • Expulsion policy
  • Expulsion procedures
  • Community resource and referral list
  • Informational materials provided to service recipients
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Persons served
  • Observe facility
  • Review logs, progress notes, or case records, as applicable


CA-OS 5.01

The environment promotes a non-threatening, welcoming, and inclusive approach and fosters trust and engagement for all service recipients.


Programs should provide an affirming, safe, and welcoming environment for all individuals. Youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender (LGBT) are greatly overrepresented among youth experiencing homelessness. Programs can help to signal that they provide an environment that is safe and welcoming, for example, by posting “visual cues” in the reception or common area, such as a nondiscrimination policy or LGBTQ symbols (i.e., posters, stickers, and flags).


CA-OS 5.02

Drop-in centres are located in areas where they can be easily accessed by individuals experiencing homelessness, and provide:
  1. comfortable seating;
  2. food or snacks;
  3. a telephone;
  4. a mailing address;
  5. a computer with internet access;
  6. a safe, lockable place to keep personal belongings and valuables;
  7. clothing;
  8. laundry facilities or laundromat tokens; and
  9. bathroom facilities with showers, including personal hygiene supplies.

Fundamental Practice

CA-OS 5.03

Drop-in centres provide, directly or by referral:
  1. crisis intervention;
  2. information and referrals;
  3. medical and dental services;
  4. behavioural health services;
  5. legal services;
  6. housing services; 
  7. employment services; and
  8. support, programming, and education on a range of topics, when serving youth.
Examples: Support, programming, and education for youth may include workshops on topics, such as independent living skills, education, employment, health, and relationships, as well as opportunities for socialization and recreation.


CA-OS 5.04

In order to ensure the needs of service recipients are met:
  1. personnel are available during operating hours to provide ongoing services and overall supervision; and
  2. operating hours are clearly posted on or near the front door, and include information on alternative service locations that are accessible when the drop-in centre is closed.

Fundamental Practice

CA-OS 5.05

Written expulsion policies and procedures:
  1. are posted or otherwise provided to individuals using the service;
  2. are clear and simple, avoiding overly rigid and bureaucratic language and rules;
  3. define specific behaviours, conditions, or circumstances that may result in expulsion, and limit expulsion to extreme situations;
  4. include timely due process provisions;
  5. describe the conditions or process for re-admission to the facility; and
  6. require that all reasonable efforts be made to provide an appropriate referral.
Examples: Examples of reasons for expulsion include when a service recipient exhibits severely disruptive behaviour or is violent toward self or others.