Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

Domestic Violence Services (PA-DV) 6: Advocacy and Support Services

Survivors receive a range of supportive services that promote well-being and independence.
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 educational curricula
  • Procedures for referring survivors to services
  • Informational materials provided to survivors
  • Educational curricula
  • Community resource and referral list
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Survivors
  • Review case records


PA-DV 6.01

The program’s services and personnel:
  1. recognize individual and family values and goals;
  2. accommodate variations in lifestyles;
  3. emphasize personal growth, development, and situational change; and
  4. aim to help survivors gain confidence in their personal abilities.
Examples: Involving survivors in program development may be one way of promoting both responsive programming and the empowerment of survivors.

Fundamental Practice

PA-DV 6.02

The agency provides survivors with the resources needed to report domestic violence, sexual assault, or child maltreatment, if they elect to do so.


PA-DV 6.03

Survivors receive assistance with housing that includes, as needed:
  1. information about available housing options;
  2. help finding a safe, stable living arrangement; and
  3. education on tenant rights and responsibilities.
Examples: Appropriate housing options can include: (1) finding a new residence and living independently in a new community, (2) residing with friends or relatives, (3) transitional housing, (4) emergency shelter, and (5) returning home with necessary and available legal protections.


PA-DV 6.04

Survivors are helped to manage any legal needs they may have, including:
  1. working with law enforcement;
  2. locating attorneys;
  3. obtaining protective orders;
  4. resolving issues related to divorce, custody, visitation, and child support; and
  5. understanding their legal rights.


The agency should be aware of the steps necessary to obtain a protective order in all applicable jurisdictions, including on military installations, should the survivor wish to do so.


PA-DV 6.05

Comprehensive counseling services are available as needed, and include:
  1. short-term counseling;
  2. long-term counseling; and
  3. support groups.


PA-DV 6.06

Employment support promotes survivors’ ability to achieve economic independence and includes help in the following areas, as needed:
  1. obtaining needed educational services; 
  2. developing habits, skills, and self-awareness essential to employability; 
  3. writing resumes, completing job applications, and preparing for interviews; and 
  4. finding and accessing local employment resources and placement options, including on the job training.


PA-DV 6.07

Educational offerings promote independence and housing readiness and address, as needed:
  1. activities of daily living;
  2. household management;
  3. budgeting and money management;
  4. credit and debt counseling;
  5. the use of community resources;
  6. information about public assistance; and
  7. interpersonal communication.


PA-DV 6.08

When services are provided in a group setting they are: 
  1. designed to respond flexibly to the changing needs of group members; and
  2. scheduled with participants’ time commitments in mind.
NA The agency does not provide services in a group setting.


PA-DV 6.09

When services are provided in a group setting, participants have opportunities to:
  1. contribute by sharing their experiences and asking questions;
  2. listen to and learn from those who are similar to and different from themselves;
  3. develop positive relationships with others;
  4. assume responsibilities and develop leadership capacities; and
  5. participate in activities of interest.
NA The agency does not provide services in a group setting.

Fundamental Practice

PA-DV 6.10

Survivors are linked to a range of other services that include, as needed:
  1. food and nutrition assistance;
  2. health services, including both emergency and routine medical care;
  3. mental health services;
  4. services for substance use conditions;
  5. financial assistance;
  6. transportation assistance;
  7. prenatal health care;
  8. pediatric health care, including well-baby visits and immunizations;
  9. child care; and
  10. family support and strengthening services.


When an agency provides shelter services to survivors’ children, medical and dental assessments for children and youth should be conducted in accordance with well-child guidelines.


Regarding element (c), expectant and recent mothers should be screened for depression, informed about postpartum depression, and connected to available support and treatment services.


PA-DV 6.11

Survivors are helped to develop and expand their informal support networks, including connections with friends, extended family, and community members.