2023 Edition

Outreach Services Definition

Purpose

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.

Definition

Street Outreach Services/Mobile Outreach Services are offered to youth, adults, and families experiencing homelessness, including those who are not served or are underserved by existing community service delivery systems.

Drop-In Centers are fixed-site programs that meet basic needs and connect individuals to community services in an environment that is safe, secure, comfortable, and non-stigmatizing.

Note:Programs that provide case management will also complete COA's Case Management standards (CM). Programs that provide mental health or substance use services will also complete COA's standards for Mental Health and/or Substance Use Services (MHSU).


Note:Please see OS Reference List for the research that informed the development of these standards.


Note:For information about changes made in the 2020 Edition, please see the OS  Crosswalk.


2023 Edition

Outreach Services (OS) 1: Person-Centered Logic Model

The organization implements a program logic model that describes how resources and program activities will support the achievement of positive outcomes.  

Currently viewing: PERSON-CENTERED LOGIC MODEL

Viewing: OS 1 - Person-Centered Logic Model

VIEW THE STANDARDS

NotePlease see the Logic Model Template for additional guidance on this standard.  
1
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.

Logic models have been implemented for all programs and the organization has identified at least two outcomes for all its programs.
2
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,  
  • Logic models need improvement or clarification; or
  • Logic models are still under development for some of its programs, but are completed for all high-risk programs such as protective services, foster care, residential treatment, etc.; or
  • At least one outcome has been identified for all of its programs.
3
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards. Service quality or program functioning may be compromised; e.g.,
  • Logic models need significant improvement; or
  • Logic models are still under development for a majority of programs; or
  • A logic model has not been developed for one or more high-risk programs; or
  • Outcomes have not been identified for one or more programs.
4
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.,
  • Logic models have not been developed or implemented; or
  • Outcomes have not been identified for any programs.

 

OS 1.01

The program logic model, or equivalent framework, identifies: 
  1. needs the program will address; 
  2. available human, financial, organizational, and community resources (i.e. inputs); 
  3. program activities intended to bring about desired results; 
  4. program outputs (i.e. the size and scope of services delivered);  
  5. desired outcomes (i.e. the changes you expect to see in persons served); and 
  6. expected long-term impact on the organization, community, and/or system. 
Examples:Please see the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Logic Model Development Guide and COA Accreditation’s PQI Tool Kit for more information on developing and using program logic models. 
 
Examples: Information that may be used to inform the development of the program logic model includes, but is not limited to:  
  1. needs assessments and periodic reassessments;  
  2. risks assessments conducted for specific interventions; and 
  3. the best available evidence of service effectiveness. 

 

OS 1.02

The logic model identifies desired outcomes in at least two of the following areas:  
  1. change in functional status;  
  2. connection to formal and informal support systems;  
  3. health, welfare, and safety;  
  4. achievement of individual service goals;   
  5. community awareness of services provided or topics relevant to the service population; and   
  6. other outcomes as appropriate to the program or service population.  
Interpretation: Outcomes data should be disaggregated to identify patterns of disparity or inequity that can be masked by aggregate data reporting. See PQI 5.02 for more information on disaggregating data to track and monitor identified outcomes.  

Interpretation: COA Accreditation recognizes that it may be difficult to track individual outcomes given the nature and duration of OS services. If individual outcomes are not being tracked, the organization must be prepared to demonstrate how program-level outputs are used to build capacity, improve programs, and positively impact persons served. Additionally, the organization may speak to how it uses community-wide outcomes data collected by outside entities to make data-informed decisions within its program when appropriate. 
2023 Edition

Outreach Services (OS) 2: Personnel

Program personnel have the competency and support needed to provide services and meet the needs of youth, adults, and families experiencing homelessness.
Interpretation: Competency can be demonstrated through education, training, or experience. Support can be provided through supervision or other learning activities to improve understanding or skill development in specific areas.
1
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.
2
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,  
  • With some exceptions, staff (direct service providers, supervisors, and program managers) possess the required qualifications, including education, experience, training, skills, temperament, etc., but the integrity of the service is not compromised; or
  • Supervisors provide additional support and oversight, as needed, to the few staff without the listed qualifications; or 
  • Most staff who do not meet educational requirements are seeking to obtain them; or 
  • With few exceptions, staff have received required training, including applicable specialized training; or
  • Training curricula are not fully developed or lack depth; or
  • Training documentation is consistently maintained and kept up-to-date with some exceptions; or
  • A substantial number of supervisors meet the requirements of the standard, and the organization provides training and/or consultation to improve competencies when needed; or
  • With few exceptions, caseload sizes are consistently maintained as required by the standards or as required by internal policy when caseload has not been set by a standard; or
  • Workloads are such that staff can effectively accomplish their assigned tasks and provide quality services and are adjusted as necessary; or
  • Specialized services are obtained as required by the standards.
3
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards.  Service quality or program functioning may be compromised; e.g.,
  • A significant number of staff (direct service providers, supervisors, and program managers) do not possess the required qualifications, including education, experience, training, skills, temperament, etc.; and as a result, the integrity of the service may be compromised; or
  • Job descriptions typically do not reflect the requirements of the standards, and/or hiring practices do not document efforts to hire staff with required qualifications when vacancies occur; or 
  • Supervisors do not typically provide additional support and oversight to staff without the listed qualifications; or
  • A significant number of staff have not received required training, including applicable specialized training; or
  • Training documentation is poorly maintained; or
  • A significant number of supervisors do not meet the requirements of the standard, and the organization makes little effort to provide training and/or consultation to improve competencies; or
  • There are numerous instances where caseload sizes exceed the standards' requirements or the requirements of internal policy when a caseload size is not set by the standard; or
  • Workloads are excessive, and the integrity of the service may be compromised; or 
  • Specialized staff are typically not retained as required and/or many do not possess the required qualifications; or
  • Specialized services are infrequently obtained as required by the standards.
4
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards.
Self-Study Evidence On-Site Evidence On-Site Activities
  • List of program personnel that includes:
    • Title
    • Name
    • Employee, volunteer, or independent contractor
    • Degree or other qualifications
    • Time in current position
  • See organizational chart submitted during application
  • Table of contents of training curricula
  • Safety procedures for street outreach personnel
  • Sample job descriptions from across relevant job categories
  • Documentation tracking staff completion of required trainings and/or competencies
  • Training curricula
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
  • Review personnel files

 

OS 2.01

Supervisors are qualified by:
  1. an advanced degree in social work or a comparable human service field and at least two years of direct care experience in human services; or
  2. a bachelor’s degree in social work or a comparable human service field and at least four years of direct care experience in human services.

 

OS 2.02

Personnel who have frequent contact with individuals living with mental health and/or substance use conditions have clinical skills and/or are supervised by personnel with such skills.

 

OS 2.03

All direct service personnel are trained on, or demonstrate competency in:
  1. understanding homelessness, including the causes and effects of homelessness, overrepresented and vulnerable populations, impact of homelessness on child development, barriers to exiting homelessness, and service needs;
  2. the ability to handle rejection;
  3. recognizing and responding to signs of suicide risk;
  4. making linkages and referrals to community and housing services; and
  5. implementing the organization’s plans for managing medical or psychiatric emergencies.
Interpretation: Peer outreach workers should be trained on or demonstrate competency in these areas as needed based on their job responsibilities.

 

OS 2.04

All direct service personnel are trained on, or demonstrate competency in, understanding the special service needs of service recipients, including, as appropriate:
  1. individuals coping with substance use and/or mental health issues, including dual diagnosis;
  2. individuals coping with trauma, including how to recognize trauma and appropriate interventions for addressing the acute needs of trauma victims;
  3. individuals with HIV/AIDS;
  4. individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or gender non-conforming;
  5. individuals and families who have been victims of violence, abuse, or neglect;
  6. individuals who may be the victims of human trafficking or sexual exploitation, including how to identify potential victims;
  7. pregnant and parenting mothers and/or fathers with young children;
  8. runaway and homeless children and youth;
  9. persons with current or past criminal justice system involvement;
  10. persons with current or past child welfare system involvement;
  11. persons with developmental disabilities; and
  12. older adults.
Interpretation: Peer outreach workers should be trained on or demonstrate competency in these areas as needed based on their job responsibilities.

 
Fundamental Practice

OS 2.05

The organization ensures the safety of street outreach personnel by:
  1. developing procedures and trainings that address how to recognize and respond to street safety risks; and
  2. deploying at least a two-person team when necessary due to safety concerns.
NA The organization does not provide street outreach.

 

OS 2.06

Peer outreach workers receive pre- and in-service training and ongoing supervision and support around: 
  1. the role of a peer outreach worker, including skills, concepts, and philosophies related to peer support; and
  2. established ethical guidelines, including setting appropriate boundaries and maintaining confidentiality.
Interpretation: Peer outreach workers establish relationships with service recipients that are based on mutual respect and trust and support bidirectional learning and reciprocity.
NA The organization does not utilize peer outreach workers.

 

OS 2.07

Employee workloads support the achievement of client outcomes and are regularly reviewed.
Examples: Factors that may be considered when determining employee workloads include, but are not limited to:
  1. the qualifications, competencies, and experience of the worker, including the level of supervision needed;
  2. the work and time required to accomplish assigned tasks and job responsibilities; and
  3. service volume, accounting for assessed level of needs of persons served.
2023 Edition

Outreach Services (OS) 3: Engagement and Assessment

The organization’s engagement and assessment practices enable workers to build trust with individuals experiencing homelessness and ensure they receive prompt and responsive access to appropriate services.
1
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.
2
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
  • In a few rare instances, urgent needs were not prioritized; or
  • For the most part, established timeframes are met; or
  • Culturally responsive assessments are 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.
3
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
  • Urgent needs are often not prioritized; or 
  • Services are frequently not initiated in a timely manner; or
  • Applicants are not receiving referrals, as appropriate; or 
  • Assessment and reassessment timeframes are often missed; or
  • Assessment are sometimes not sufficiently individualized; 
  • Culturally responsive assessments are not the norm, and this is not being addressed in supervision or training; or
  • Several client records are missing important information; or
  • Client participation is inconsistent; or
  • Intake or assessment is done by another organization or referral source and no documentation and/or summary of required information is present in case record. 
4
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.,
  • There are no written procedures, or procedures are clearly inadequate or not being used; or
  • Documentation is routinely incomplete and/or missing.  
Self-Study Evidence On-Site Evidence On-Site Activities
  • Assessment procedures
  • Copy of assessment tool(s)
  • Documentation of collaboration with other community providers and resources
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
  • Review logs, progress notes, or case records, as applicable

 

OS 3.01

Engagement and assessment are:
  1. non-stigmatizing and non-judgmental;
  2. sensitive to the willingness of the individual or family to be engaged;
  3. culturally and linguistically responsive;
  4. non-threatening;
  5. respectful of the person's autonomy and confidentiality;
  6. focused on information pertinent for meeting service requests and objectives;
  7. trauma-informed;
  8. flexible; and
  9. persistent.
Interpretation: To ensure that transgender and gender non-conforming service recipients are treated with respect and feel safe, service recipient choice regarding their first names and pronouns should be respected and forms and procedures should allow individuals to self-identify their gender and receive access to services accordingly, in accordance with applicable federal and state laws.

 
Fundamental Practice

OS 3.02

Personnel use standardized, evidence-based instruments to assess:
  1. safety, including potentially life-threatening situations and risk for suicide in order to determine if a more intensive service is necessary;
  2. immediate needs;
  3. level of functioning;
  4. overall mental and physical health; and
  5. strengths and capacities, including the capacity for making decisions.
Interpretation: Depending on the qualifications of staff doing street outreach, the assessment process may be a two-phased process with elements (a) and (b) addressed by outreach workers in the locales where connections are made with service recipients, and elements (c), (d), and (e) addressed by a case manager or other qualified staff once the service recipient has agreed to accept services at a shelter or drop-in center. Assessments should be updated as needed based on the needs of persons served.
Examples: Organizations can respond to identified suicide risk by connecting individuals to more intensive services; facilitating the development of a safety and/or crisis plan; or contacting emergency responders, 24-hour mobile crisis teams, emergency crisis intervention services, crisis stabilization, or 24-hour crisis hotlines, as appropriate.

 

OS 3.03

Programs facilitate access to the continuum of services through active collaboration with other homelessness service providers and community resources.
Examples: Organizations may collaborate through their community’s coordinated entry processes, if available. Coordinated entry provides equal, nondiscriminatory access to appropriate services regardless of where service recipients present for assistance, and connects service recipients to all available community programs and services, as appropriate. Coordinated entry processes provide access to providers delivering a wide range of services, including both homeless-specific programs and services for the general population. Examples include shelters for domestic violence survivors, runaway and homeless youth programs, street outreach services, homelessness prevention programs, emergency shelters, transitional housing, permanent supportive housing, rapid re-housing, programs for veterans, LGBTQ-affirming services and supports, providers of mainstream benefits and services, health and mental health clinics, employment services, and child development programs.
2023 Edition

Outreach Services (OS) 4: Service Provision

Outreach services link individuals and families with needed services and housing.
1
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.
2
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.
3
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. 
4
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 Evidence On-Site Evidence On-Site Activities
  • Procedures for referring individuals to services
  • Community resource and referral list
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
  • Review logs, progress notes, or case records, as applicable

 

OS 4.01

The organization works in active partnership with persons served to:
  1. assume a service coordination role, as appropriate, when the need has been identified and no other organization has assumed that responsibility;
  2. ensure that they receive appropriate advocacy support;
  3. assist with access to the full array of services to which they are eligible; and
  4. mediate barriers to services within the service delivery system.
Example: Personnel can facilitate and improve access to services by personally introducing service recipients to health, mental health, social service, and mainstream benefit providers.

 

OS 4.02

Outreach services are flexible and respond to the unique needs of youth, adults, and families experiencing homelessness.

 

OS 4.03

Outreach services provide, either directly or through referral, an array of services that meet basic needs and help integrate the person or family into the community.
Examples: Needed services may include:
  1. services to meet basic needs, including food, clothing, shelter, hygiene, and laundry;
  2. crisis intervention;
  3. medical/dental evaluation and care;
  4. behavioral health care;
  5. housing assistance;
  6. substance use education and treatment;
  7. legal assistance;
  8. help obtaining documentation, for example birth certificate, photo identification, and/or social security card;
  9. help with mainstream benefit enrollment and renewal applications;
  10. case management;
  11. social support services; 
  12. medical respite care services; and
  13. health information, including information about harm reduction, STDs, HIV/AIDS, and pregnancy prevention.

 
Fundamental Practice

OS 4.04

When the outreach team has the authority to transport a person involuntarily to an emergency facility, the organization follows written procedures that protect the safety, dignity, and legal rights of the service recipient.
NA The organization does not have the required authority.
2023 Edition

Outreach Services (OS) 5: Drop-In Centers

Drop-in centers for individuals experiencing homelessness provide basic services in a safe, supportive, minimally-intrusive environment.
NA The organization does not provide a drop-in center for individuals experiencing homelessness.
1
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.
2
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.
3
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. 
4
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 Evidence On-Site Evidence On-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

 

OS 5.01

Drop-in centers 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

OS 5.02

Drop-in centers provide, directly or by referral:
  1. crisis intervention;
  2. information and referrals;
  3. medical and dental services;
  4. behavioral 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.

 

OS 5.03

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 center is closed.

 
Fundamental Practice

OS 5.04

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 behaviors, 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 behavior or is violent toward self or others.
2023 Edition

Outreach Services (OS) 6: Follow-Up

Personnel follow-up, to the greatest extent possible, with each person or family regarding their short- and long-term progress and stability.
1
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.
2
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
  • Proper documentation is the norm and any issues with individual staff members are being addressed through performance evaluations and training; or
  • In a few instances, the organization terminated services inappropriately; or  
  • Active client participation occurs to a considerable extent; or
  • A formal case closing evaluation is not consistently provided to the public authority per the requirements of the standard.
3
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
  • Services are frequently terminated inappropriately; or  
  • Aftercare planning is not initiated early enough to ensure orderly transitions; or
  • A formal case closing summary and assessment is seldom provided to the public authority per the requirements of the standard; or  
  • Several client records are missing important information; or
  • Client participation is inconsistent. 
4
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 Evidence On-Site Evidence On-Site Activities
  • Follow-up procedures
No On-Site Evidence
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
  • Review logs, progress notes, or case records, as applicable
Copyright © 2024 Council on Accreditation