Staff Conduct, Training, and Supervision
Rewards, Corrective Actions, and Grievances
Program Evaluation and Termination of Services
PROGRAM STANDARD 5.1: A written guideline describes procedures for reviewing and revising program policies.
Commentary: Program administrators should review program practices and policies (e.g., interagency protocols, staff policies, job descriptions) on a regular basis, and clearly mark the effective date. When policies are revised, all changes should be made in writing and distributed to affected persons.
PROGRAM STANDARD 5.2: If the program is governed by a board of directors or guided by an advisory board, a written guideline provides a reasonable description of the board's:
- Compliance with state laws and regulations.
- Roles and responsibilities.
- Procedures for reviewing and revising bylaws.
Commentary: Routine board activities usually include meeting, planning, making personnel decisions, fundraising, evaluating program functionality, and setting policy. The board should receive regular reports (e.g., monthly, quarterly) documenting program functions, and should be involved in any policymaking decisions that will affect personnel, budgetary, or program development matters. The board is encouraged to meet regularly and record minutes of meetings; review the annual report; review bylaws regularly; and clearly record adoption dates of new bylaws.
Nonprofit programs are encouraged to include in their guidelines procedures for maintaining representative board membership. Government agencies are encouraged to establish advisory boards and, likewise, outline procedures for maintaining representative board membership. The program's governing and/or coordinating body should generally reflect and comprise representatives of the various geographic areas and diverse populations served (e.g., in terms of age, race/ethnicity, language/literacy, sex, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, ability/disability, social class, economic status, education, marital status, religious affiliation, immigration status, HIV status). Survivors should be welcomed and encouraged to actively participate in the board.
PROGRAM STANDARD 5.3: As applicable, the program has a fiscal management plan, including the following:
- Documented compliance with fiscal and audit requirements.
- Maintenance of appropriate insurance policies.
- Maintenance of a bookkeeping system.
Commentary: This standard applies to programs that have their own fiscal management systems. The standard may not apply to programs that are located in a government or umbrella agency. All programs should be aware of their budgets and monitor expenses, even if they do not have control over final spending.
Programs generally are to have fire, theft, building, professional liability, and workers' compensation insurance. If a program provides transportation to service recipients, it may require auto insurance, including coverage for riders. Bookkeeping systems might include expenditures, receipts from all funding sources, accounts receivable from persons served, accounts payable to vendors, payroll, tax and benefit payments, and salary and benefits histories for staff. Fiscal records should be kept current. Programs should conduct independent audits annually, and monitor the quarterly budget for substantial variance between projected and actual expenditures. Additionally, programs should maintain a written policy for record retention.
PROGRAM STANDARD 5.4: A written guideline describes program procedures for maintaining sufficient, continuous, and stable resources to achieve its specified goals.
Commentary: Programs are encouraged to document procedures to ensure that staff and resources are adequate for meeting program goals. This may include plans for volunteer recruitment drives, staff development programs, annual fundraising efforts, grant writing, and building relationships with multiple funding sources. If program staff and resources are not adequate for achieving program goals, consider refining the goals to more realistically reflect the program's capacity.
PROGRAM STANDARD 5.5: A written guideline includes job descriptions for all administrative and program staff (paid and volunteer), including criteria for training/experience (when applicable) and placement within the organizational chain of supervision.
Commentary: Within this guideline, it is important to describe not only the duties of individuals within their roles but also the relationships between individuals in different program roles. For instance, management responsibilities might include a description of the program director's relationships to the board, to staff, and to those served.
An organization chart can help promote and support staff members' understanding of the program's structure and the roles of administrators, staff, and volunteers. The chart shows the flow of responsibility and accountability for program actions, and helps to clarify the duties of team members (consistent with job descriptions).
Job descriptions should include information about education and licensing requirements, background checks or other requirements that candidates must pass in order to qualify for a position. Organizations must comply with any state, tribal, or federal laws or regulations regarding educational and licensing requirements and background checks for paid staff and volunteers. In addition, when placing staff or volunteers in program positions that include working directly with clients or having access to sensitive client information, it is important to complete a comprehensive screening process that should include submitting names—and where possible, fingerprints—for a national background check of criminal history records. Depending upon the client population to be served, particularly minors or vulnerable adults, a thorough screening process would also include, but would not be limited to, checking state sex offender registries, child protective services, adult protective services, civil protection order court records, and credit history.
The National Center for Victims of Crime conducted a National Survey of Nonprofit Volunteer Screening Practices. The findings of the survey point to several steps organizations should take to improve screening practices. In addition, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provides further information about what employers need to know about background checks.
PROGRAM STANDARD 5.6: A written guideline describes rationale and procedures for staffing, including workload distributions and staff-client ratios.
Commentary: Staff size and composition should align with the program's mission, the number and type of services provided, the number of people served, typical victim/survivor needs, and staff responsibilities.
When determining staffing assignments and workload distribution, programs should take into account the time needed to supervise staff and volunteers, attend community meetings, perform administrative tasks, conduct research or training, perform basic documentation, conduct program assessments and performance reviews, and engage in professional development activities. Continuity of leadership requires that a sufficient portion of the chief administrator's workload over a calendar year be devoted directly to program administration. Programs should have sufficient infrastructures in place to make sure their mission can be accomplished; this might include assigning administrative support staff to the victim service program.
PROGRAM STANDARD 5.7: A written guideline describes the program's schedule of salaries and benefits for paid and unpaid staff.
Commentary: A program's philosophy on benefits drives its policy. For instance, certain nonhierarchical philosophies may not support benefits such as seniority-based salary increases. The written schedule of salaries and benefits should be reviewed by management and/or the board on a regular basis and should meet local standards for salaries and benefits. Some nonprofits may choose to establish a range of salaries with the board to keep individual salaries confidential. Whenever possible, programs should offer salaries that compare favorably to other jobs that require similar employee backgrounds (e.g., education, training) and skills. Programs are encouraged to provide pay increases based on merit and the rise in cost of living. A fringe benefit package is recommended, including basic health insurance (including mental health counseling), unemployment and workers' compensation benefits, medical/sick leave, vacation time, and customary holidays. Some programs also include expanded health benefits (e.g., dental care, eye care, disability insurance) and pension and retirement plans.
Programs are also encouraged to develop provisions for assisting staff with ethical and legal issues that derive from work-related dilemmas. This might include obtaining legal counsel when a staff member is faced with ethical or legal conflicts, developing procedural guidelines for handling conflicts, or otherwise arranging for staff to be supported by the organization when faced with a difficult situation.
PROGRAM STANDARD 5.8: A written guideline describes the program's procedures for assessing and maintaining an environment of nondiscrimination in employment.
Commentary: Programs should make specific, continuous efforts to ensure that their staff are recruited, assigned duties and salaries, retained, and promoted fairly, including direct service, administrative, and support staff, as well as volunteers. Programs are encouraged to develop nondiscrimination-in-hiring policies that include age, race, color, national origin, language/literacy, sex, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, social class, economic status, education, marital status, religion, immigration status, and HIV status. The guidelines should describe how program components (staff composition, resource allocation, program leadership, speaker series and special programs, research, and other initiatives) reflect the program's understanding of and respect for diversity. Ongoing efforts should be made to enhance the cultural competence of staff by inviting culturally specific communities to provide cross-training, asking staff to manage partnerships with culturally relevant organizations, or offering to co-locate staff at a culturally relevant organization for outreach purposes.
PROGRAM STANDARD 5.9: A written guideline prohibits sexual and other forms of unlawful harassment in the workplace, and provides a means by which harassment can be reported, including in situations where the harasser is in the individual's chain of supervision.
Commentary: Harassment of any program staff by anyone employed by or contracted with the program can interfere with work performance and create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. Harassment may constitute prohibited discrimination under applicable local, state, and federal civil rights laws and program statutes, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Victims of Crime Act, and the Violence Against Women Act. Programs should have clear policies that prohibit such conduct and set mandates for immediate and thorough investigation of allegations, appropriate disciplinary action in verified cases, and efforts to inform paid and unpaid staff of their responsibilities and the legal issues involved.
Staff Conduct, Training, and Supervision
PROGRAM STANDARD 5.10: A written guideline describes procedures for orienting paid and unpaid staff to personnel policies and policies on supervision.
Commentary: New program staff and volunteers should receive a thorough orientation on program policies; policies should be readily available to staff in at least one print or electronic format.
PROGRAM STANDARD 5.11: A written guideline specifies code-of-conduct guidelines for on-the-job performance.
Commentary: This guideline addresses compliance with program policies; unbecoming conduct; use of alcohol and other drugs; acceptance of tips, bribes, or rewards; abuse of authority; and proper care and maintenance of equipment. Approved behaviors (e.g., courtesy) may be stated in general terms; however, unacceptable or undesirable behaviors and conduct (e.g., any restrictions on physical attire) should be described in detail.
PROGRAM STANDARD 5.12: A written guideline describes training requirements for program staff (paid and volunteer). The guideline should include:
- A minimum of 20 hours of pre-service training for all new staff whose positions will require access to confidential communications or client information.
- An additional 20 hours of training for new staff, documented within the first calendar year of service in the program.
- A minimum of 12 hours of ongoing professional development each calendar year of service.
- A clear outline of training content, including hourly requirements per topic.
- Approved methods of training delivery, including curriculum content and trainer qualifications.
- Criteria for documenting completion of training requirements.
Commentary: There are numerous ways to enhance staff competency, including formal education, professional training, work experience, and personal experience. These hourly requirements are based on examinations of numerous state and national training programs and on feedback from victim assistance providers in the field. They are intended to promote quality of service and to be reasonably achievable by a variety of individuals, agencies, and locales. Some states may have statutory requirements that exceed these standards.
The recommended 20 pre-service and 20 service-onset training hours are directed toward new staff with little or no experience in victim services (whereas all staff should engage in ongoing professional development). Program administrators ultimately have discretion over which staff are experienced enough to opt out of the initial 40 training hours. Suggested criteria include 3 years of service provision (including letters of reference) and/or proof of prior receipt of 40 hours of training in victim services. Approved training sources might include state training academies, regional and national conferences, professional workshops and seminars, college and university programs, independent study, internships, national resource centers, technical assistance providers, culturally specific organizations, and other sources.
Training may be delivered in a classroom setting or via electronic methods such as online coursework, Webinars, interactive websites, or educational chat sessions.
Training staff on a range of topics will help them build the knowledge and skills necessary to deliver direct services and coordinate service networks. (See the Competency Standards for guidance on prioritizing your program's training needs.) Suggested training topics include (as appropriate to program goals):
- An overview of victim service programs in the community.
- The history of the victims' movement, and theories of victimization.
- Mental, physical, financial, social, emotional, and spiritual concerns of victims/survivors.
- The impact of trauma.
- Grief and bereavement.
- Crisis intervention.
- Intermediate and long-term services.
- Safety planning and risk assessments.
- Intake, service planning and case management.
- The criminal and juvenile justice systems.
- The tribal justice system.
- The military justice system.
- Victims' state and federal rights.
- Applicable local, state, and federal civil rights laws and program statutes.
- Restorative justice.
- Compensation, restitution, and civil remedies.
- Victim assistance ethics.
- Roles and boundaries of the victim assistance provider.
- Documentation and case notes.
- Confidentiality and safe use of technology.
- Mandated reporting.
- Cultural and linguistic competency.
- Personal safety.
- Burnout, compassion fatigue, and vicarious trauma.
- Communication and public speaking.
- Conflict management.
- Time and task management.
- Working with the media.
- Interagency coordination and referrals.
- Outreach, prevention and social change advocacy.
- Traditional property crimes (e.g., burglary, arson, vandalism, shoplifting).
- Financial scams and trends in property crime (e.g., I.D. theft, mortgage fraud).
- Domestic violence.
- Sexual assault.
- Human trafficking.
- Forensic interviewing.
- Online and electronic victimization (e.g., Internet fraud, sexting, child sexual exploitation and image distribution).
- Drunk-driving death and injury.
- Homicide and suicide.
- Death notification.
- Terrorism and mass violence incidents.
- Vulnerable victims/survivors (e.g., children; the Deaf communities; older adults; persons with disabilities or specific needs; incarcerated persons; persons who are homeless; individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer; persons with substance abuse problems; persons with limited or no English proficiency).
Ideally, pre-service training is structured to assist new staff and volunteers in assessing their aptitude and motivation for working in victim assistance. Although pre-service is intended to occur before the victim assistance provider begins work, this may not be possible in some exceptional circumstances. If pre-service training is not feasible, the training should be delivered as soon as possible following the onset of service, with new staff working only under supervision. All programs should clearly designate a period of supervised performance (on-the-job training) as new providers begin delivering services. This supervision is different from pre-service training in that on-the-job training typically focuses less on conceptual knowledge and more on rehearsing, applying, and refining applied skills. On-the-job training should include observing and working closely with experienced staff, preferably on at least 10 actual or simulated cases. Programs are encouraged to have structured guidelines for evaluating staff performance during this initial training and orientation period and providing feedback to enhance performance, as appropriate to program goals.
Ongoing professional development (e.g., continuing education, in-service training, cross-training) should include a designated number of hours devoted to topics including victims' rights legislation, promising practices, the impact of trauma, technology, and other emerging issues. Victims/survivors who volunteer or work for the program should participate in all professional development opportunities, including training in leadership and skills they may apply across different types of victim service programs. Staff and volunteers who are transitioning to supervisory roles are encouraged to receive training on the following topics within 1 year of the transition:
- Role transitions and boundaries.
- Mentoring, leadership, and promoting staff competency (e.g., succession planning).
- Conflict management and employee assistance (e.g., addressing compassion fatigue).
- Staff evaluation and performance assessment.
- Introduction to program evaluation.
Take steps to ensure that training for staff is of good quality, and to the greatest extent possible, based on evidence. For instance, before accepting outside training to fulfill required training hours, research the quality of outside training providers and make sure the training is accessible to staff with specific needs (e.g., persons with disabilities or with limited English proficiency). Identify the credentials your program requires to qualify trainers, including expertise in the content area, knowledge of adult education, and, to the extent possible, applied experience in the victim assistance field. When possible, individual courses should demonstrate consistency among course objectives, course outlines, and participant materials. Review trainings through a survivor-informed lens to assess whether the underlying theories and philosophies in the training content are consistent with program goals and survivor experiences.
Ideally, training delivery methods support intellectual, emotional, and experiential dimensions of learning appropriate to adult learners, the course, and the program's goals. When technology-supported training (e.g., Webinars, telecasts, training through real-time video such as Skype) is used as a supplement to in-person training, take care to ensure that the training incorporates methods to promote full engagement in the course (e.g., interactive discussion, activities, video segments, post-tests). Whenever possible, the effectiveness and impact of the training should be evaluated. Training programs should be able to show that individuals who received training can reasonably synthesize, apply, and demonstrate what they have learned. Furthermore, programs are strongly encouraged to develop routine procedures for incorporating new ideas into training (e.g., reviewing and revising curricula every couple of years, routinely supplementing course materials).
Programs should document the number of hours and type of training that each staff member receives. Programs are responsible for making sure that individuals transferring from other programs have received comparable training.
PROGRAM STANDARD 5.13: A written guideline describes procedures for supervision of staff, including, as applicable:
- Chain of supervision.
- Hourly/weekly requirements.
- Length of supervision.
- Nature of supervision.
- Varying levels of supervision, depending on work experience, training, and position in the program.
- Procedures for staff review.
Commentary: Supervisory duties include direct oversight and support of staff, arranging training, scheduling staff, monitoring time and attendance, and assigning job duties. Supervision also includes assessing staff workload, promoting self-care practices, and supporting routine use of stress reduction techniques by program staff. Supervisors should assess staff for burnout, compassion fatigue, and vicarious trauma, and arrange for support when these conditions are detected.
In terms of direct supervision, service providers require regular “case consultation supervision.” For example, some programs supervise new staff for about 1 hour of every 15 hours of face-to-face contact with service recipients; more or less supervision may be needed, depending on agency size, caseload, and complexity of the cases. Additional consultation may be required if the provider encounters difficult issues while delivering services or if the supervisor perceives problems in the provider's handling of a situation
Staff meetings and individual consultations should be scheduled on a regular basis, preferably no less than twice per month. Supervisors should be readily accessible by phone or electronic communication, or in person. Staff members should receive public recognition for superior work; while any reprimands should be delivered confidentially. Protocols should promote victim/survivor and staff/volunteer data privacy and security, particularly if supervision is conducted via electronic technologies such as email, Web Forums, or video conferencing.
Staff performance should be evaluated regularly (e.g., annually, semiannually). Whenever possible, staff members should be involved in setting their own performance objectives and incentives, and should be provided with clear expectations and objective feedback on performance.
PROGRAM STANDARD 5.14: As applicable, a written guideline describes procedures for volunteer management, including:
- The program's philosophy on volunteer participation.
- Recruitment and placement.
- Job descriptions.
- Training and supervision.
- A system of recognition and rewards.
- Recordkeeping on volunteer participation.
Commentary: If management and supervision procedures differ for paid staff and volunteers, programs should supplement paid staff guidelines with guidelines for volunteers. These might include written policies and procedures addressing the recruitment, screening (including background checks), training, supervision, and dismissal of volunteers who provide both direct and indirect services. Such policies will clarify the roles and contributions of volunteers in the program's provision of services, with address how, when, where, and the frequency with which volunteers will be used. These policies might include special provisions for student volunteers, who may receive educational credit for their service. Your program should explore and address any liability issues associated with using volunteers.
Volunteer recruitment should receive some publicity, including media coverage or outreach to civic groups and culturally specific community-based programs, faith communities, and educational institutions. Job descriptions should be provided to volunteers when they are accepted into the program. All volunteers should be provided with pre-service and in-service training, and, to the extent possible, professional development opportunities. For quality service delivery, volunteers should be held to the same training requirements and given the same opportunities as paid staff (see Program Standard 5.12). They should be included in the program's functioning in meaningful ways (e.g., in the development of survivor-informed services, as board members). Volunteers and paid staff interact regularly, and volunteers should be actively recognized by paid staff for their contributions. Many programs sponsor annual recognition days during which volunteers receive awards, certificates, or other formal means of recognition for their service.
Programs should maintain a confidential file for each volunteer, including a signed confidentiality statement and a record of all training completed by the volunteer. If electronic technologies are used to solicit volunteer applications or track volunteer hours, particular consideration should be given to data security and confidentiality policies.
PROGRAM STANDARD 5.15: A written guideline describes program procedures for assessing and managing provider stress.
Commentary: The everyday stressors of providing support to crime victims/survivors and of exposure to traumatic events can take a substantial toll on providers. A good plan for stress management will enhance morale and reduce burnout and staff turnover. The plan can be simple and can include informal opportunities for staff to discuss cases, concerns, and their own reactions to everyday events. Smaller programs might encourage staff to keep stress diaries or write out strategies for personal coping. More detailed plans might include weekly supervision to address stressors, scheduled days away from work, scheduled staff time with outside counselors, seminars on vicarious trauma and stress-management, staff retreats, exercise and health plans, resilience training, stress-reduction techniques, workplace violence protocols, and employee assistance programs to address stressors within and beyond the workplace (e.g., harassment, domestic violence). The work environment should be flexible and allow for creativity among staff.
The National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma and Mental Health offers online resources and webinars about organizational approaches to support staff and self-care. See www.nationalcenterdvtraumamh.org/trainingta/webinars-seminars/2013-practical-strategies-for-creating-trauma-informed-services-and-organizations/
Rewards, Corrective Actions, and Grievances
PROGRAM STANDARD 5.16: A written guideline describes program procedures and/or criteria for recognizing and rewarding staff for good performance.
Commentary: It is necessary to establish a consistent process for recognizing and rewarding staff and volunteer performance. For paid staff, compensation may include additional time off with pay, monetary supplement, and sabbaticals. If a program regularly presents awards for quality services, it should establish criteria for these awards. Programs should also consider whether civil service rules, grant funding limitations, or collective bargaining agreements limit ways in which staff may be recognized.
PROGRAM STANDARD 5.17: A written guideline describes the discipline system, including recordkeeping, due process, and appeals for disciplinary actions.
Commentary: The disciplinary system should be a positive process of corrective action directed toward education and development of staff. It should be based on confidentiality of and fairness to the staff person and the program, and should stimulate staff morale and motivation. The system might include training, rewarding, and advising staff, as well as a means of establishing accountability.
This guideline provides recommendations for alternative corrective actions, including a progressive sequence of action for multiple violations, and is used to establish consistency in any punitive actions. For hierarchical programs, the guideline might describe the role and authority of first-line supervisors in the disciplinary process. These individuals often have the best opportunity to observe staff conduct and to notice instances when corrective or disciplinary actions may be warranted. First-line supervisors also have the opportunity to get to know and understand the personality traits of the staff under their supervision and to determine the most effective methods for addressing a problem. In theory and practice, the severity associated with discipline increases with the position of the advisor in a hierarchically structured program.
The guideline requires programs to maintain written documentation of corrective or disciplinary actions (and outcomes), and should include where the records will be filed, how long they will be maintained, and under what circumstances they will be purged. As applicable, a system of appeals should be available for disciplinary action, with the guideline describing initiation procedures, timeframes, method of recording, and the scope of the appeal process. Appeals should go to a higher level of authority for review.
PROGRAM STANDARD 5.18: A written guideline describes procedures for terminating staff, including procedures for notifying staff and any postemployment review.
Commentary: If staff misconduct, loss of funding, or other circumstances result in dismissal, programs should provide the staff person with the following:
- A written statement citing the reason for dismissal.
- The effective date of the dismissal.
- A statement of the status of fringe/retirement benefits after dismissal.
Program administrators are encouraged to provide exit interviews, during which terminated staff may voice concerns (these should be documented). Such interviews not only provide a forum for voicing differences between staff and program philosophies, but also help programs to recognize unfairness and refine staff policies and supervision techniques. Programs should consider whether jurisdictional employment laws, civil service rules, or collective bargaining agreements limit ways in which termination can be carried out.
PROGRAM STANDARD 5.19: A written guideline describes the program's procedures for grievances filed by staff, including (as applicable):
- Matters for which grievances can be filed.
- Levels in the program or government to which the grievance may be filed and/or appealed.
- The type of information to be submitted when filing a grievance.
- Procedural steps and time limitations for each level in responding to grievances and appeals.
- Any criteria for staff representation (e.g., on committee, legal counsel).
- The staff member responsible for coordinating grievance procedures.
Commentary: Formal grievance procedures are designed to resolve differences between staff members and the program, and should be written in clear, concise terms. Procedures should dictate that the grievant provide basic information such as a written statement of the grievance and the facts on which it is based, a written allegation of the specific wrongful act and harm done, and a written statement of the requested remedy or adjustment. It may be helpful to develop a form for this purpose that includes spaces for noting significant times, dates, and actions taken relative to a grievance. Once a grievance has been filed, it should be handled formally, with each level of management acknowledging receipt by noting the time, date, and person receiving the grievance. The facts or allegations should be carefully analyzed and affirmed or denied in writing. Each level of program management should make a legitimate attempt to resolve the grievance rather than merely passing it on to the next level. If applicable, remedies or adjustments should be identified in writing.
Grievance procedures should include a process for appealing to a higher level or authority for review. The guideline may identify the levels of appeal, the time limits within which each level should respond, and the final level of authority.
The guideline should also specify who is responsible for coordinating grievance procedures, including maintaining records. Due to the sensitivity of such records, additional precautions should be taken to control access to them. A program administrator or the board of directors should analyze records of all grievances annually. If analysis reveals a trend in grievances filed, steps may be taken to minimize the causes of such grievances in the future.
PROGRAM STANDARD 5.20: A written guideline describes mechanisms for victims/survivors to lodge complaints regarding violation of rights, poor treatment by staff, or lack of appropriate service response.
Commentary: This guideline includes specific procedures for handling complaints from victims/survivors that arise during the provision of services, and should comply with applicable laws, regulations, and ethical requirements. Procedures should outline multiple options for filing complaints and detail how complaints will be resolved. Information on complaint procedures should be available to persons served in general program materials or upon request.
Some states have specific grievance mechanisms for victim/survivor complaints. The U.S Department of Justice (DOJ) created the Office of the Victims' Rights Ombudsman to receive and investigate complaints of victims' rights violations against DOJ employees. Other possible referral sources include the highest program authority (e.g., agency director), the funding authority, the state coalition, or the state ombudsperson (if applicable).
Program Evaluation and Termination of Services
PROGRAM STANDARD 5.21: A written guideline describes a plan for regular program evaluation, including:
- Summary data on victims/survivors served and services rendered.
- Performance-based assessments of staff's service delivery.
- Measures of victim/survivor satisfaction with services.
- Periodic assessments of community service needs.
- Outcome-based assessments of victim service use.
Commentary: Periodic needs assessments and routine program evaluation are critical to developing and sustaining victim service programs, and should be regarded as an important part of quality program performance. Programs are encouraged to consider devoting appropriate time and funding to these tasks. Needs assessment and evaluation activities should always be considered through a victim-centered lens, incorporating survivor feedback regarding daily, informal practices as well as more structured programmatic activities and policies. Evaluation and assessment data should be used in determining program goals, staff training content, program capacity building, and overall strategic planning.
To keep services aligned with community needs, programs are encouraged to conduct a needs assessment every few years (or maintain access to current data) and to use assessment data to improve the quality of services delivered. A needs assessment may include a review of the extent and types of victimization occurring in the program's service area, the informational and service needs of victims/survivors, changes in demographics in the service area (e.g., languages spoken by residents, age and gender distribution), and other services and providers in the community. These assessments can reveal gaps and overlaps in service delivery, unmet community needs, and services the program is well-suited to provide.
Program evaluation consists of routine performance measurement and outcome evaluation. The logic model described in Program Standard 1.1 can serve as a blueprint for measuring and evaluating program performance. Routine recordkeeping should include a data management system for the number of persons served and type and frequency of services rendered, among other indicators of the program's activities (see Program Standard 4.2). The system should be able to generate descriptive statistics (summary data) and allow for retrieval of data needed to measure the program's performance in relation to its stated goals, objectives, and funds received for services.
Programs are encouraged to supervise and review staff regularly and conduct written performance evaluations to assess and enhance the quality of service delivery. In addition, client satisfaction surveys should be administered periodically as a critical measure of program outcome. “Satisfaction” may be thought of in a number of ways, depending on program goals (e.g., the client had his or her needs met, the client thought the program helped, the client was willing to use the service in the future). Consider conducting surveys, interviews, or other measures several times each year to evaluate victim/survivor satisfaction with the services delivered and identify areas for refining them.
There are guidelines and resources available to help measure program impact on victims served, the effects of education and outreach efforts on the community, and other anticipated outcomes identified in the program's logic model. Consider partnering with researchers from nearby universities and colleges to develop and implement your program's needs assessments and outcome evaluations. Students often fulfill internship, thesis, or dissertation requirements through research, and may be helpful in developing data systems, designing evaluation methodology, collecting data, performing analyses, and preparing reports. Building relationships with research institutions sets the stage for long-term partnerships for research that can inform future generations of victim service providers.
Numerous resources exist for learning more about logic models. For example, the University of South Carolina's College of Social Work offers a 3-part webinar series that describes the basics of logic models, how to create them, and how to use logic models in grants development.
Many national and state-based agencies (e.g., law enforcement divisions, victims' fund administrators) operate research and statistics centers or training and technical assistance centers that can assist with evaluations or refer programs to regional resources.
The Justice Research and Statistics Association conducts and publishes multistate, policy-relevant research on justice issues; provides training and technical assistance to build research and evaluation capacity and knowledge of evidence-based practices at the state and local levels, and maintains information on state criminal and juvenile justice research and programs.
PROGRAM STANDARD 5.22: A written guideline describes procedures for program closing or termination, including:
- Notification of victims/survivors.
- Notification of staff and volunteers.
- Community notification.
- Records retention.
Commentary: To minimize the negative effects of a program's closing or termination on victims/survivors, professionals, and communities, it is important to have specific protocols in place for retaining records and notifying affected parties when a victim assistance program ceases to provide services. Any victims/survivors currently receiving services should be notified of the closing via reliable methods (preferably in person, by phone, or by the means of electronic communication through which services were provided). Whenever possible, assist victims/survivors in making new safety plans and provide them with transfers or referrals for seeking services through another organization, as appropriate. Post fliers, press releases, posters, and electronic media in high-service areas (e.g., partner programs, surrounding communities), stating the date that services will cease and contact information for alternative programs and for crisis response. Program staff should be notified of the program's closing in a timely fashion (e.g., within 24 hours of the program administrator's knowledge), as should program volunteers (e.g., within 10 working days). Provide written notification to relevant community organizations and justice agencies, including courts, law enforcement, the local department of corrections, domestic violence intervention programs, shelters, state coalitions, substance abuse services, departments of human services, colleges and universities, medical facilities, faith organizations, service groups for marginalized populations, and other groups that have had contact with the program or with victims/survivors in the community. In accordance with applicable laws, regulations, and ethical requirements, plans should be established for securely storing financial, management, personnel, and client records; notifying clients regarding procedures for claiming records; and disposing of secure data.