Private Organization Accreditation

Sweetser, a Maine non-profit agency operating since 1828, provides comprehensive mental and behavioral health and substance abuse treatment services. Statewide, it serves around 15,000 consumers a year, including children, adults, and families in outpatient, office-based, and residential settings.


Harry Hunter, MSW, MBA, Ph.D.

Volunteer Roles: Peer Reviewer; Team Leader

Peer Reviewer for the month of January 2013, Dr. Hunter has been volunteering for COA since 2005, conducting five site reviews.
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The agency supports personnel and promotes personnel competence, satisfaction, and retention by providing initial and ongoing competency-based training; a variety of personnel development opportunities; and regular, supportive supervision. 

PA-PDS 3: Leadership Support of Supervisors

Agency policy and practice reflect a culture that values and supports its supervisors.

Rating Indicators
Full Implementation, Outstanding Performance
A rating of (1) indicates that the agency's practices fully meet the standard and reflect a high level of capacity.  
  • All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, with rare or no exceptions: exceptions do not impact service quality or agency performance. 
Substantial Implementation, Good Performance
A rating of (2) indicates that an agency's infrastructure and practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement.
  • The majority of the standards requirements have been met and the basic framework required by the standard has been implemented. 
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality or agency performance.
Partial Implementation, Concerning Performance
  • A rating of (3) indicates that the agency's observed infrastructure and/or practices require significant improvement.  
  • The agency has not implemented the basic framework of the standard but instead has in place only part of this framework.  
  • Omissions or exceptions to the practices outlined in the standard occur regularly, or practices are implemented in a cursory or haphazard manner.  
  • Service quality or agency functioning may be compromised.  
  • Capacity is at a basic level.
Unsatisfactory Implementation or Performance
  • A rating of (4) indicates that implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all.  
  • The agency’s observed administration and management infrastructure and practices are weak or non-existent; or show signs of neglect, stagnation, or deterioration.
Please see Rating Guidance for additional rating examples. 

Table of Evidence

Self-Study Evidence On-Site Evidence On-Site Activities
    County/Municipality Administered Agency, State Administered Agency (Central Office), or other Public Entity  
    • The supervision framework and/or relevant HR policies and procedures outlining supervisory expectations and responsibilities for the agency (PA-PDS 3.01)
    • Criteria for assigning supervisory responsibilities (PA-PDS 3.02)
    • Supervisory ratios for each program or service (PA-PDS 3.02)
    • Aggregate supervisory caseload reports for the previous two quarters (PA-PDS 3.02)
    • See the strategic plan in PA-AM 3 for supervisory support goals (PA-PDS 3.03)
    • Description of the professional development program available to supervisors  (PA-PDS 3.05)
    • Table of contents for supervisor orientation and in-service trainings (PA-PDS 3.05)
    State Administered Agency (Regional Office)
    • Regional supervisory caseload reports for the previous two quarters (PA-PDS 3.02)
    • A summary of the regions supervisor training activities for the previous and current calendar year (PA-PDS 3.05)
    • Description of regional professional development efforts for supervisors  (PA-PDS 3.05)
    Agency, State Administered Agency (Central Office), or other Public Entity  
    • Evidence of PQI activities related to supervisory support efforts (PA-PDS 3.03)
    • Evidence of supervisor involvement in the new staff onboarding process, PQI activities, and policy and practice initiatives (e.g. meeting minutes) (PA-PDS 3.04)
    • Training curricula for supervisors (PA-PDS 3.05)
    • Training files, database, or personnel files that demonstrate attendance at required supervisory trainings 
    • Documentation of supervision for supervisors (PA-PDS 3.05)
    State Administered Agency (Regional Office)
    • Evidence of supervisor involvement at the regional level in the onboarding process, PQI activities, and/or policy and practice initiatives (e.g. meeting minutes) (PA-PDS 3.04)
    • Training curricula for supervisors
    • Training files, database, or personnel files that demonstrate attendance at required supervisory trainings (PA-PDS 3.05)
    • Documentation of supervisor supervision (PA-PDS 3.05)
    All Agencies
    • Interview: 
      1. Agency leadership
      2. Supervisors

  • PA-PDS 3.01

    The agency has a supervision framework that is aligned with its mission and practice model, and supports effective supervision across the agency by:

    1. identifying the job responsibilities, skill set, and other behaviors required of supervisors, including their administrative, educational, and supportive functions;
    2. setting supervisor-supervisee ratios;
    3. establishing specific expectations for the frequency and format of supervision;
    4. establishing specific expectations for the frequency and format for ongoing evaluation of frontline workers; and
    5. establishing various resources and supports for supervisors.

    Interpretation: Resources and supports for supervisors include, but are not limited to: employment assistance programs, mentoring and coaching, offering lateral transfers to less stressful assignments, and ensuring coverage so supervisors can take advantage of trainings or other professional development opportunities.

  • FP
    PA-PDS 3.02

    When assigning supervisory responsibilities, the agency considers:

    1. ratio standards established by its supervision framework; 
    2. the qualifications and experience of the worker and the supervisor;
    3. the complexity and intensity of services; and
    4. additional agency responsibilities.

    Interpretation: COA recommends that generally supervisory ratios do not exceed 1:8. For child and family services agencies, including child protective programs and foster and kinship care, it is recommended that front-line supervisory ratios not exceed 1:5. 

    The evaluation of this standard will focus on whether supervisory ratios are manageable, taking into account the factors cited in the standard and interpretation. Each agency will establish ratios that it deems appropriate in its supervision framework (PA-PDS 3.01), and reviewers will evaluate: (1) whether the agency’s designated ratios reflect a manageable workload for supervisors, and (2) whether the agency is maintaining ratios of the size established by its supervision framework.

    Research Note: Caseload sizes impact the supervisor’s ability to effectively monitor case activities and progress. As such, manageable supervisory ratios and case load sizes work hand-in-hand to ensure that supervisors have sufficient capacity to develop effective working relationships with their supervisees and ultimately promote the achievement of desired outcomes.

  • PA-PDS 3.03

    The agency periodically assesses the needs of its supervisors and incorporates supervisory support goals into its long-term planning and quality improvement activities.

    Interpretation: Assessments should identify both existing resources that facilitate the work of supervisors as well as the systemic barriers that get in the way of them effectively fulfilling their roles within the agency.

    Interpretation: See PA-AM 3.02 for more information on long-term planning activities.

    NA State-administered agency regional office

  • PA-PDS 3.04

    Supervisors are empowered as change agents within the agency through involvement in:

    1. the recruitment, selection, and training of front-line workers;
    2. performance and quality improvement activities; and
    3. the development, communication, implementation, and/or monitoring of policy and practice changes. 

  • PA-PDS 3.05

    Supervisors participate in a comprehensive professional development program that includes:

    1. supervisor orientation;
    2. in-service supervisor training; 
    3. access to regularly scheduled supervision;
    4. tuition reimbursement for degree and certificate programs, whenever possible; and
    5. structured peer support, mentoring, coaching, and/or clinical consultation opportunities.

    Interpretation: Structured peer support includes activities such as peer group case review, peer group problem solving, and facilitated learning labs.

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