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The Community Engagement Team (CET) is a unique, business-led outreach team that provides rapid-response support and intervention for non-violent crisis situations, as well as traditional street outreach services.
What began in 2018 as a pilot program funded through the City of Toronto BIA Innovation Fund has become a fully-integrated BIA program, funded by the Downtown Yonge BIA.
As of 2020, the CET is partially funded by the City of Toronto
Available 8-hours a day, 5 days a week, the priority of the CET is to respond to calls from streetfront businesses for people in crisis in their stores.
The goal of the CET is to provide an alternative that uses a client-centred, trauma-informed approach to crisis intervention – by providing on-site counselling, referrals to services or access to other resources as needed.
The CET has a response time of less than 10 minutes to crisis calls, and in the Fall of 2020, expanded its offerings with weekly partnered outreach sessions with a variety of stakeholders.
For the 12 months from August 2021 to July 2022, the CET recorded over 3,500 interactions with clients and made more than 350 referrals to services and resources, a referral rate of 10% over the 12-month period.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, service offerings across the city were strained, thus resulting in less access to resources for clients. Pre-emptive de-escalation, supportive counselling and wellness checks were crucial during this time, accounting for almost 50% of the on-street services offered by the CET during these 12 months.
Building partnerships is a foundational piece to the CET program, and during this time, the team participated in over 200 partnered outreach sessions with 7 different partners and stakeholders. Of these, over 25% were held with the neighbourhood community police officers, with the goal of bettering relationships in the community.