Private Organization Accreditation

Catholic Charities alleviates human suffering and improves the quality of life of 100,000 people annually, regardless of religious background. A staff of 600 provides support and services related to housing, food, mental health, children's services, addiction treatment, and domestic violence services.


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 4: Supervision

Supervision supports personnel development, retention, and improved outcomes.

Interpretation: Unless otherwise noted, the standards in this section apply to supervisors at all levels including middle managers who support front-line supervisors.

Interpretation: When providing supervision remotely using technology, the supervisor and supervisee should adhere to the same practices applied to face-to-face supervisory relationships. 

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
    • See table of organization in PA-AM 3 for lines of supervision 
    • Sample job descriptions of supervisors  from each program or service(front line, managers, department directors) 
    • Description of activities or practices related to mitigating work-related stress (PA-PDS 4.05)
    State Administered Agency (Regional Office)
    • Description of regional activities or practices related to mitigating work-related stress (PA-PDS 4.05)
    County/Municipality Administered Agency, State Administered Agency (Central Office), or other Public Entity
    • See supervision framework and/or relevant HR policies and procedures outlining supervisory expectations and responsibilities in PA-PDS 3
    • Documentation of individual supervision (PA-PDS 4.01) 
    • Documentation or minutes from group supervision meetings (PA-PDS 4,01)
    • Documentation of activities or practices related to mitigating work-related stress (PA-PDS 4.05)
    State Administered Agency (Regional Office)
    • Documentation of individual supervision (PA-PDS 4.01)
    • Documentation or minutes from group supervision meetings (PA-PDS 4.01)
    • Documentation of regional activities or practices related to mitigating work-related stress (PA-PDS 4.05)
    All Agencies
    • Interview: 
      1. Supervisors
      2. Agency field personnel
      3. Community stakeholders, such as universities, utilizing agency for field placements
      4. Student interns

  • FP
    PA-PDS 4.01

    Supervisors have sufficient time to:

    1. provide regularly scheduled supervision; 
    2. offer flexible support in response to crisis situations or urgent needs; and 
    3. conduct evaluation and training activities as outlined in the agency’s supervision framework.

    Interpretation: The supervision framework should outline expectations regarding the frequency and format of supervision and performance evaluation for each program/service and for each position or job category, e.g.  manager to supervisor, supervisor to worker. See PA-PDS 3.01 for more information on establishing a supervision framework.

    Interpretation: Supervisors should maintain an administrative file with up-to-date documentation of each supervisory session, including the date and duration of each session as well as a brief outline or summary of what was discussed. 

    Research Note: Research suggests that workers who receive supportive supervision are more effective in their work, which can have a positive impact on service recipients. Supportive supervisory practices are those that go beyond assigning and managing tasks to build and maintain personnel capacity, promote improved performance, and build positive relationships. This includes monitoring outcomes, giving feedback, supporting the emotional needs of personnel, managing conflict, etc. Caseworkers that were interviewed at a variety of state agencies providing child and family services cited a lack of quality supervision as one reason for reduced productivity and high turnover rates.

  • PA-PDS 4.02

    Supervisors’ administrative functions include:

    1. delegating and overseeing workload;  and
    2. ensuring that services are delivered according to the agency’s mission, policies and procedures, service philosophy and practice model, and applicable law and regulation. 

  • PA-PDS 4.03

    Supervisors promote a supportive culture of continuous learning across all levels of the agency by:

    1. consistently recognizing the strengths and accomplishments of personnel;
    2. framing errors as opportunities for growth and continued learning;
    3. promoting knowledge acquisition and skill development through various professional development opportunities; and
    4. facilitating opportunities for personnel to learn from one another’s successes.

    Interpretation: Professional development opportunities can include a mix of formal training or education, peer support, mentoring, consultation, and coaching.  

  • PA-PDS 4.04

    Supervisors assist personnel in transferring the skills and knowledge obtained in the classroom to their work in the field by:

    1. working with personnel to identify the most appropriate trainings for their position;
    2. clarifying the purpose and relevance of the training before it is delivered; 
    3. following up with personnel to establish a plan for incorporating acquired skills and knowledge into their work, including setting performance goals and methods for tracking progress when appropriate; 
    4. modeling appropriate practice and/or establishing mentorships with more experienced colleagues; and/or
    5. observing practice in the field accompanied by constructive feedback.  

  • FP
    PA-PDS 4.05

    Supervisors address the social and emotional needs of personnel through:

    1. adherence to agency policy and procedures that promote worker safety; and
    2. activities or practices designed to prevent, recognize, and respond to work-related stress.

    Interpretation: Supervision must go beyond task supervision to address the social and emotional needs of workers, including the risk of indirect trauma exposure.  

    Interpretation: Examples of activities or practices that are designed to prevent, recognize and respond to work-related stress include, but are not limited to:

    1. training supervisors and workers on the potential impacts of work-related stress and prevention strategies;
    2. reflective supervision;
    3. peer support including self-care groups, supervision, mentoring, and group processing;
    4. encouraging personnel to utilize vacation time;
    5. offering flex time arrangements;
    6. informal and formal assessment tools;
    7. managing work assignments to avoid heavy caseloads of traumatized individuals; and
    8. providing access to employee assistance programs. 

  • PA-PDS 4.06

    Direct service volunteers, student professionals, and interns are directly supervised by licensed or otherwise accountable professionals.

    NA The agency does not use direct service volunteers, student professionals, or interns.

  • PA-PDS 4.07

    Supervisors support and enhance personnel’s ability to perform their jobs by teaching and modeling, as appropriate:

    1. technical knowledge and skills;
    2. professional ethics;
    3. supervisory skills, when applicable;
    4. core leadership competencies and associated behaviors;
    5. work management and communication skills; and
    6. conflict management skills.

    Interpretation: For middle managers that support supervisors, element (c) includes teaching and modeling key supervisory skills including, but not limited to: conducting performance evaluations, goal setting, communicating expectations, handling difficult conversations, encouraging feedback, personnel management, and using data to inform practice.

  • PA-PDS 4.08

    Supervisors provide additional support to personnel when they are: 

    1. new;
    2. developing competencies; 
    3. experiencing challenging circumstances with the individuals and families or staff they work with; or
    4. experiencing higher workloads.

    Interpretation: The type of additional support provided to personnel will vary depending on each individual’s unique needs and job responsibilities. For example, personnel may require more frequent supervision, additional training opportunities, reduced workloads, or shadowing for a period of time.  

    Interpretation: Regarding element (b), personnel may require additional supervision for licensure or professional certifications. In these instances, program personnel should refer to professional supervision requirements in the relevant field of study and/or practice. 

    Interpretation: Regarding element (c), a suicide attempt or death of a service recipient or fellow staff member can be a traumatic experience for personnel. Voluntary, non-judgmental support and crisis response services should be made available to help personnel grieve and prepare for future contact with individuals at risk for suicide.

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