Calgary Homeless Foundation funds a range of programs and services to support the diverse and unique needs of individuals and families experiencing homelessness.
Coordinated Access and Assessment, or CAA, is the system that enables people to connect to these supports.
Without CAA, people seeking help would have to match their needs to services and know how and where to find them. They might try several different options and relive the trauma they’ve experienced telling their story to new caseworkers across different agencies, who may not know what supports have already been offered.
By combining the entry points to these services into a single, coordinated system, caseworkers can match people to the right services effectively and efficiently.
How does CAA work?
The CAA team is operated by the Distress Centre and based at SORCe, a resource hub in downtown Calgary.
In partnership with Calgary Homeless Foundation, the team trains caseworkers called Housing Strategists who connect individuals and families to information, resources and housing. There are more than 80 trained Housing Strategists across 21 door agencies providing a continuum of services over a wide geographic area.
When an individual or family experiencing homelessness approaches the CAA team or a Housing Strategist, their level of need is first assessed using a set of standardized tools called the Needs and Services Questionnaire (NSQ) and the Housing Plan.
These tools determine what level of service is best suited to the person’s needs. Generally, Housing Strategists offer three levels of services, forming a comprehensive continuum of care:
Prevention and Shelter Diversion. These services divert people away from homelessness – an important part of the CAA’s work – and serve as the starting point for the continuum of care.
Referrals connecting individuals and families to appropriate community-based services rather than to emergency response services.
Assessments and Housing Plans for individuals and families who face barriers to exiting homelessness.
When necessary, Housing Strategists will use a triage process to determine placements in a program. They are also trained to help people develop plans to end their homelessness independently.
Together, CHF and the CAA team are continually improving the continuum of services to ensure that the right intervention for the right person is available at the right time.
You can find more information on Housing Strategists and guides to the types of programs below.
CAA and a Coordinated System of Care
CAA plays a crucial role in coordinating Calgary’s homeless-serving system of care – the network of agencies and programs that assist people experiencing homelessness in the city.
CAA was first implemented in September 2013 to coordinate the intake of people into the system of care. As a result of this coordination:
Individuals are connected with prevention and diversion resources upfront, thereby reducing new entries into homelessness;
People are supported and, if required, referred to programs designed to meet their needs, and
Data is used to identify and address the changing needs of individuals experiencing homelessness, while informing strategies and resource allocation.
Most importantly, CAA’s coordinated approach means that people spend less time navigating the system of care – a result that reduces their stress and maintains their dignity.
While CAA does not solve the environmental factors that contribute to homelessness in Calgary – such as the high rates of migration to the city, limited affordable housing options, and a lack of employment opportunities – it does monitor the evolving needs of people and ensures that finite resources are funnelled to where they are most required.
What is SORCe?
The Safe Communities Opportunity and Resource Centre, or SORCe, is a hub where people can access programs and services that address their current situation.
SORCe offers information, provides an initial assessment to determine a person’s need, offers counseling as required, and refers individuals to a range of programs and services that respond to their unique circumstances.
What is CAA?
Coordinated Access and Assessment is a single process for people experiencing homelessness to access housing services and other system referrals.
What is the Needs and Services Questionnaire?
The NSQ (Needs and Services Questionnaire) is a tool that determines a person’s needs in order to identify the supports and programs that will best serve them. It provides a standardized method of assessing needs throughout the System of Care.
For more information on the NSQ, please see Forms & Assessments.
What are Placement Committees?
The purpose of Placement Committees is to review completed NSQs for referrals into program spaces. Placement Committees are comprised of CHF-funded agencies and system partners.
Committees for Youth, Families, and Adults meet each week, using a set of triage guidelines to match people to programs and services based on community priorities.
How long will it take to get housing after completing an NSQ and Housing Plan?
Completing the NSQ with the CAA Team at SORCe or a CAA door agency means a person will be considered for placement, but it does not guarantee housing or placement in a program. This is not a typical “wait list,” but rather a triage list to best meet participant needs based on availability of services.
What is a door agency?
Some agencies act as a “door” or point of entry into CAA. Staff working as trained Housing Strategists provide services to help individuals leave homelessness. These staff members are trained on the NSQ and the Housing Plan, as well as Prevention and Diversion resources and strategies.
When people participate in CAA, how is their information protected?
The protection of information is governed by FOIP. CAA adheres to these principles and policies, both in verbal sharing of information and the securing of hard copy and electronic storage of information. Participant information will not be released to any person, agency, organization or institution except by a legal subpoena or by the expressed consent of the participant by way of a Release of Information.
Calgary Homeless Foundation
Rocky Mountain Plaza
Suite 1500, 615 Macleod Trail SE
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2G 4T8