Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

Personnel Development and Supervision (PA-PDS) 3: Leadership Support of Supervisors

Agency policy and practice reflect a culture that values and supports its supervisors.
2020 Edition




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.
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.
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
County/Municipality Administered Agency, State Administered Agency (Central Office), or other Public Entity  
  • Written supervision framework including supervisory ratios for each program or service
  • Criteria for assigning supervisory responsibilities 
  • Table of contents for supervisor orientation and in-service trainings 
State Administered Agency (Regional Office)
  • List of the region’s supervisor training activities (in-service, staff meetings, supervisor groups) for the previous and current calendar year
Agency, State Administered Agency (Central Office), or other Public Entity  
  • Aggregate supervisory caseload reports for the previous two quarters
  • Documentation of supervision or supervision logs
  • See the strategic plan in PA-AM 3 for supervisory support goals 
  • Training curricula for supervisors 
  • Documentation tracking supervisors’ completion of required trainings  
State Administered Agency (Regional Office)
  • Regional supervisory caseload reports for the previous two quarters 
  • Training curricula for supervisors
  • Documentation tracking supervisors’ completion of required trainings 
  • Documentation of supervisor supervision 
  • Documentation of regional professional development efforts for supervisors
All Agencies
  • Interviews may include: 
    1. Agency leadership
    2. Supervisors

Fundamental Practice

PA-PDS 3.01

The agency has a supervision framework that includes each program and job category that:
  1. identifies the job responsibilities, skill set, and other behaviors required of supervisors, including their administrative, educational, and supportive functions;
  2. sets supervisor-supervisee ratios;
  3. establishes expectations for the frequency and format of supervision;
  4. establishes expectations for the frequency and format for ongoing evaluation of frontline workers; and
  5. establishes resources and supports for supervisors.
Examples: Examples of resources and supports for supervisors include, but are not limited to:
  1. employment assistance programs;
  2. offering lateral transfers to less stressful assignments; and 
  3. ensuring coverage so supervisors can take advantage of trainings or other professional development opportunities.

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.


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.

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.


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.
NA State-administered agency regional office

PA-PDS 3.04

Supervisors participate in a comprehensive professional development program that includes:
supervisor orientation;
  1. in-service supervisor training; 
  2. access to regularly scheduled supervision;
  3. tuition reimbursement for degree and certificate programs, whenever possible; and
  4. structured peer support, mentoring, coaching, and/or clinical consultation opportunities.
Examples: Structured peer support can include activities such as peer group case review, peer group problem solving, and facilitated learning labs.