Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

Domestic Violence Services (PA-DV) 2: Personnel

Program personnel have the competency and support needed to provide services and meet the needs of survivors.


Competency can be demonstrated through education, training, or experience, including both work and life experience. Support can be provided through supervision or other learning activities to improve understanding or skill development in specific areas.
2020 Edition




Individuals who receive Domestic Violence Services gain a sense of empowerment, improve their well-being, and increase their ability to live safely and independently.
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 service delivery infrastructure and practices are weak or non-existent; or show signs of neglect, stagnation, or deterioration.
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Table of contents of training curricula
  • Procedures or other documentation relevant to continuity of care and case assignment
  • Sample job descriptions from across relevant job categories
  • Documentation tracking staff completion of required trainings and/or competencies 
  • Training curricula
  • Caseload size requirements set by policy, regulation, or contract, when applicable
  • Documentation of current caseload size per worker


  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
  • Review personnel files

PA-DV 2.01

Direct service personnel are qualified by a bachelor’s degree in social work or a comparable human service field and/or appropriate training and experience.


Personnel degree qualifications should be appropriate to the services being provided.

PA-DV 2.02

The program director has a bachelor’s degree and two years' experience working with survivors, at a minimum.

PA-DV 2.03

The individual who has administrative responsibility for shelter operations has:
  1. at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent and two years' experience in human services; or
  2. substantial experience in human services, including at least two years' experience in shelter services.
NA The agency does not provide shelter services.

PA-DV 2.04

All direct service personnel are trained on, or demonstrate competency in:
  1. empowering and communicating empathetically with survivors;
  2. assessing risks and safety;
  3. developing safety plans;
  4. recognizing and addressing barriers to escaping abuse or accessing services;
  5. recognizing the presence of medical or health problems;
  6. recognizing and responding to the co-occurrence of domestic violence, substance use conditions, and mental health conditions;
  7. managing stress; and
  8. setting appropriate boundaries with survivors.


When the agency serves military or veteran populations, it is essential that staff have the competencies needed to effectively support and assist service members, veterans, and their families, including sufficient knowledge regarding: military culture, values, policies, structure, terminology, unique barriers to service, traumas and signature injuries, co-occurring conditions, effective and evidence-based interventions, applicable regulations, benefits, and other relevant issues. When providers possess the requisite military competency, they are capable of supporting improved communication and more effective care.  Signature injuries and co-occurring conditions include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and substance use. Personnel serving military and veteran populations should have the competencies to identify, assess, and develop a treatment plan for these injuries and conditions.

PA-DV 2.05

Personnel providing services in a group setting are trained on, or demonstrate competency in:
  1. engaging and motivating group members;
  2. educating group members;
  3. understanding group dynamics;
  4. leading discussions; and
  5. facilitating group activities.
NA The agency does not provide services in a group setting.

PA-DV 2.06

Personnel who work directly with children, or with survivors who have children, are trained on, or demonstrate competency in:
  1. child development;
  2. possible effects of witnessing domestic violence;
  3. collaborating with child protective services; and
  4. non-violent discipline methods.
NA The agency does not serve survivors who have children.

Fundamental Practice

PA-DV 2.07

There is at least one person certified in basic first aid and CPR on duty at each program site, at any time the program is in operation.
NA The agency does not provide shelter services.

PA-DV 2.08

The agency minimizes the number of workers assigned to the survivor over the course of their contact with the agency by:
  1. assigning a worker at intake or early in the contact; and
  2. avoiding the arbitrary or indiscriminate reassignment of direct service personnel.

PA-DV 2.09

Employee workloads support the achievement of survivor outcomes and are regularly reviewed.
Examples: Factors that may be considered when determining employee workloads include, but are not limited to:
  1. the qualifications, competencies, and experience of the worker, including the level of supervision needed;
  2. the work and time required to accomplish assigned tasks and job responsibilities; and
  3. service volume, accounting for assessed level of needs of survivors.