Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

Domestic Violence Services (PA-DV) 3: Access to Service

The agency ensures the accessibility of its services to survivors who need help planning for and achieving physical, emotional, and psychological safety and well-being.
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
No Self-Study Evidence
  • Outreach strategies and informational materials
  • 24-hour staff coverage schedule for past six months (or evidence of collaboration with a community telephone network or emergency response center)
  • List of community organizations with which the agency collaborates
  • Documentation of collaboration efforts


  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Survivors

PA-DV 3.01

To ensure that survivors are aware of and can access available services, the agency provides information and education throughout the community.
Examples: Appropriate outreach can include posters, pamphlets, public service announcements, and direct contact with those who may interact with the target population. Community providers likely to encounter survivors include law enforcement and legal services; child protective services; medical and health care providers; mental health care providers; substance use conditions service providers; and welfare offices.

Fundamental Practice

PA-DV 3.02

The agency provides 24-hour access to services either:
  1. directly (e.g., through a 24-hour hotline or cell phones); or
  2. through a community telephone network or emergency response center.


A community telephone network or emergency response center must: 
  1. employ trained individuals; 
  2. return calls within a 15-minute timeframe; and 
  3. have procedures that address how phone calls are returned without increasing risk to survivors.

PA-DV 3.03

The agency works with community partners and resources to address and minimize barriers that may prevent individuals from seeking or obtaining services.


For military families, fear of career consequences may be a major disincentive to seeking or obtaining services, particularly if there is an actual, or perceived, lack of complete confidentiality.
Examples: Factors that may impact whether survivors will seek or obtain services may include, but are not limited to: disabilities, mental health conditions, substance use conditions, cultural differences, lack of English proficiency, immigration status, age, sexual orientation, and having teenage male children.