New ‘SMART’ approach connects many with services during first year

Surrey

2016-11-29 09:45 PST

This November marks the one year anniversary of an innovative, multi-agency approach to assisting those who are at imminent risk of harm in Surrey’s City Centre.

The Surrey Mobilization and Resiliency Table (SMART) was launched on November 19, 2015 and since then has assessed over one hundred and ten cases, connecting many with services to reduce their acutely elevated risk.

A joint partnership between law enforcement, corrections, housing, health, social services, income assistance, and education, SMART is a paradigm shift in public safety and wellness by recognizing that the police cannot and should not shoulder the responsibility for the health and safety of a community alone. Each week, the SMART group meets to review cases where the referring agency believes there is a high probability of immediate harm for an individual or family. If the group determines this is a situation of elevated risk, the appropriate agencies will execute an intervention plan within a timely manner.

Out of the dozens of cases referred to SMART this past year, the average number of risk factors per each referral was nine. The top risk factors being housing, social environment, basic needs, drug use, and mental health.

One of these cases involved a family who was homeless and was dealing with a number of social challenges. Due to the quick and early intervention of SMART, the family was connected with a number of services including housing, drug and alcohol treatment, and safety plans for the children. In another case, a vulnerable young person who, in addition to not having access to proper housing or supervision, had witnessed a traumatic event and was not regularly attending school. After being referred to SMART, she was immediately connected with the appropriate agencies including housing with a rent supplement. Another case involved an adult male who was the victim of an assault and diagnosed with a mental health condition and unable to meet his basic needs. Since being engaged with SMART, he has been accepted into a mental health and addictions program and engaged with family members.

SMART partners in discussion

While this is still a relatively new initiative, we are encouraged by some of the early successes we have seen in ensuring that some of those individuals who are at a very elevated risk are receiving the services they need, says Surrey RCMP Insp. Andy LeClair, Community Support and Safety Officer, who took over co-chair duties from outgoing Insp. Ghalib Bhayani. In my 26 years of policing, I have never seen a more diverse team coordinate resources so quickly and share information in a manner that benefits the best interests of those in need.

Since the inception of SMART last year we have mobilized our close working team of social service providers well over a hundred times and connected individuals in urgent and critical need to services; such as housing, income assistance, substance use and mental health, says Morten Bisgaard, Manager of Field Services, Ministry of Social Development & Social Innovation. SMART has allowed us to share information and coordinate services in ways we couldn’t before, ensuring the most urgent cases are prioritized and offered services that are more holistic and thereby effective in reducing risk now and in the future.

Recently, the Pacific Community Resources Society (PCRS) joined the SMART network as a new partner. The organization has a significant connection with young people who have aged out of the school system but are still lacking the support they need to deal with the at-risk health, social, and environmental issues that they are facing.

As more partners come on board, we continue to evaluate the steps that need to be taken to reduce certain risk factors and help individuals start to make positive changes in their lives, says Insp. LeClair. The SMART initiative continues to be a fluid process, building on lessons learned from all agencies involved, with the goal of getting those at imminent risk of harm, victimization, and criminality the immediate help they need.

The partners of the Surrey Mobilization and Resiliency Table (SMART) are:

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