Private Organization Accreditation

Heartland for Children is the not-for-profit agency responsible for the foster care system in Polk, Highlands, and Hardee Counties.


Domestic Violence Intervention Services, Inc.

Donna Mathews, Associate Director

Becoming accredited and maintaining our accreditation through COA has helped us increase our professionalism and thereby provide better services to domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence survivors.
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Supervised Visitation and Exchange Services enable children to maintain connections with parents with whom they are not living by protecting the physical and emotional safety of the children and their families, including the safety of parents who have been victims of domestic violence.

CA-SVE 5: Off-site Supervision

Organizations that provide supervision at community locations implement protocols to maintain safety off-site.

Research Note: Because off-site supervision is provided at unsecured locations, organizations have less control over both the environment and ensuing events. For example, it will likely be more difficult to detect concealed weapons, hear and see everything going on, ward off intervening persons, prevent child abductions, and get help quickly in case of emergency. Accordingly, some literature emphasizes the importance of carefully considering the risks involved before offering the service, and developing enhanced protocols specific to maintaining safety and security off-site.

NA The organization does not provide off-site supervision.

Rating Indicators
All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, as indicated by full implementation of the practices outlined in the Practice standards.
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice standards; e.g.,
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted, however, these do not significantly impact service quality; or
  • Procedures need strengthening; or
  • With few exceptions procedures are understood by staff and are being used; or
  • For the most part, established timeframes are met; or
  • Proper documentation is the norm and any issues with individual staff members are being addressed through performance evaluations (CA-HR 6.02) and training (CA-TS 2.03); or
  • Active client participation occurs to a considerable extent.
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice standards. Service quality or program functioning may be compromised; e.g.,
  • Procedures and/or case record documentation need significant strengthening; or
  • Procedures are not well-understood or used appropriately; or
  • Timeframes are often missed; or
  • A number of client records are missing important information  or
  • Client participation is inconsistent; or
  • One of the Fundamental Practice Standards received a rating of 3 or 4.
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all, as noted in the ratings for the Practice standards; e.g.,
  • No written procedures, or procedures are clearly inadequate or not being used; or
  • Documentation is routinely incomplete and/or missing; or  
  • Two or more Fundamental Practice Standards received a rating of 3 or 4.

Table of Evidence

Self-Study Evidence On-Site Evidence On-Site Activities
    • Screening procedures, including criteria for assessing risk and rejecting cases
    • Procedures for selecting sites
    • Safety procedures and protocols, including procedures for addressing risks associated with off-site supervision
    • Table of contents of training curricula
    • List of program personnel providing off-site supervision that includes:
      1. name;
      2. title;
      3. degree held and/or other credentials;
      4. FTE or volunteer;
      5. length of service at the organization;
      6. time in current position
    • Documentation of training
    • Training curricula
    • Current insurance policies, with descriptions, amounts, and dates of coverage
    • Interview:
      1. Program director
      2. Relevant personnel
      3. Service recipients
    • Review case records 
    • Review personnel files

  • FP
    CA-SVE 5.01

    The off-site program has been developed with the specific goal of keeping children and families safe given the unique security issues associated with off-site supervision, and services are provided only when:
    1. specifically approved by the court or referring agency; and
    2. the organization determines that the level of risk presented by the family is an appropriate match for the level of safety and security provided during off-site supervision.

    Interpretation: As addressed in CA-SVE 2.03, there should be a match between the type of service needed, the level of risk present, and the capacity of the provider. Given the increased risks associated with providing services off-site, there will typically be a higher barrier to entry for off-site supervision.

  • FP
    CA-SVE 5.02

    To promote safety and preparedness, sites are selected in advance of the visit or exchange.

    Interpretation: The planned locations for visits or exchanges should be specified in the case record. Some organizations have a list of pre-approved off-site locations that personnel and families may choose from, and do not permit visits or exchanges to occur in other locations.

  • FP
    CA-SVE 5.03

    In evaluating sites for off-site supervision, the organization considers:
    1. environmental characteristics of the site that can impact safety or increase the risk for abduction, including lighting, location of entrances and exits, public access to the site, open spaces, crowding, and the type and configuration of bathroom facilities;
    2. proximity to a police station;
    3. the extent to which the site will be free of safety hazards for children;
    4. the extent to which contact between visiting parents and custodial parents or caregivers can be minimized, in cases where there is conflict between the parties; and
    5. the availability of bathrooms.

    Interpretation: The organization should have written protocols for evaluating the appropriateness of potential sites.

  • FP
    CA-SVE 5.04

    Written protocols guide the organization’s practice and address issues specific to off-site supervision, including:
    1. procedures for bathroom use that are specifically designed to lessen the risk of abduction;
    2. seating arrangements, including procedures to encourage parent/child bonding in reunification cases, or to seat parents and children separately in cases where abduction is a concern;
    3. dealing with intervening persons;
    4. accessing emergency assistance; and
    5. minimizing adverse events while transporting service recipients, when applicable.

    Interpretation: Given that complications surrounding the logistics of bathroom use can present an opportunity for child abduction, it is especially important to develop procedures designed to minimize this risk. Organizations should: (1) encourage personnel to minimize their fluid intake prior to visits in order to decrease the chance that they will need to use the bathroom during the visit; (2) prohibit the visiting parent from accompanying a child to the bathroom; and (3) consider the age and gender of children, along with the type of bathroom facility available at the site, when assigning personnel to supervise visits or exchanges. For example, if a visit will occur at a site with a multi-stall bathroom rather than a single-use bathroom, the organization would want to insure that the supervisor monitoring the visit is of the same gender as the child participating in the visit, to avoid a situation where the visiting parent might need to accompany the child to the bathroom.

  • FP
    CA-SVE 5.05

    Personnel are experienced in providing supervised contact and trained to manage the risks and issues associated with off-site supervision, including:
    1. use of bathrooms by both service recipients and personnel;
    2. seating arrangements; 
    3. dealing with intervening persons;
    4. recognizing when a person may be in an agitated state or present a danger;
    5. accessing emergency assistance; and
    6. transporting service recipients, when applicable.

    Note: Personnel providing off-site supervision should receive at least 40 hours of training, as addressed in CA-SVE 12.06. See CA-SVE 12.01 to 12.04  for additional topics to be covered during training.

  • CA-SVE 5.06

    Personnel promote safety off-site by planning in advance for the specifics of the visit or exchange.

    Interpretation: While personnel training and the organization’s general protocols will guide the supervisor during the contact, it may also make sense for personnel to consider the nuances of a specific location or family prior to the supervised contact. This may be especially important in terms of seating arrangements and bathroom use.

  • FP
    CA-SVE 5.07

    In case of emergency personnel bring a phone, identification, money, and copy of the court order to the visit or exchange.

  • FP
    CA-SVE 5.08

    The organization’s liability insurance specifically includes coverage for off-site supervision.

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