Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

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

Drop-in centers for individuals experiencing homelessness provide basic services in a safe, supportive, minimally-intrusive environment.
NA The agency does not provide a drop-in center for individuals experiencing homelessness.
2020 Edition

Currently viewing: OUTREACH SERVICES (PA-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.
Full Implementation, Outstanding Performance
A rating of (1) indicates that the agency's practices fully meet the standard and reflect a high level of capacity.  
  • All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, with rare or no exceptions: exceptions do not impact service quality or agency performance. 
Substantial Implementation, Good Performance
A rating of (2) indicates that an agency's infrastructure and practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement.
  • The majority of the standards requirements have been met and the basic framework required by the standard has been implemented. 
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality or agency performance.

Partial Implementation, Concerning Performance
A rating of (3) indicates that the agency's observed infrastructure and/or practices require significant improvement.  

  • The agency has not implemented the basic framework of the standard but instead has in place only part of this framework.  
  • Omissions or exceptions to the practices outlined in the standard occur regularly, or practices are implemented in a cursory or haphazard manner.  
  • Service quality or agency functioning may be compromised.  
  • Capacity is at a basic level.
Unsatisfactory Implementation or Performance
A rating of (4) indicates that implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all.  
  • The agency’s observed service delivery infrastructure and practices are weak or non-existent; or show signs of neglect, stagnation, or deterioration.
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


PA-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).


PA-OS 5.02

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

PA-OS 5.03

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.


PA-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 center is closed.

Fundamental Practice

PA-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 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.