Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

Shelter Services (PA-SH) 2: Personnel

Program personnel have the competency and support needed to provide services and meet the needs of individuals experiencing homelessness.


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

Currently viewing: SHELTER SERVICES (PA-SH)



Shelter Services meet the basic needs of individuals and families who are homeless or in transition, support family stabilization or independent living, and facilitate access to services and permanent housing.
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
  • Coverage schedules for the past six months
  • 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-SH 2.01

 Personnel providing case management are qualified by: 
  1. a bachelor’s degree in social work or a comparable human service field; or 
  2. at least 5 years of direct care experience in human services.


PA-SH 2.02

Supervisors of direct service personnel are qualified by:
  1. an advanced degree in social work or a comparable human service field and at least two years of direct care experience in human services; or
  2. a bachelor’s degree in social work or a comparable human service field and four years of direct care experience in human services.


PA-SH 2.03

When clinical services are provided on-site, experienced personnel with an advanced degree in social work, psychology, counseling, psychiatry, psychiatric nursing, or other human services, provide:
  1. case supervision or case consultation;
  2. overall guidance to the program; and
  3. training of direct service and supervisory personnel.
NA Program personnel do not provide clinical services.


PA-SH 2.04

All direct service personnel are trained on, or demonstrate competency in:
  1. understanding homelessness, including the causes and effects of homelessness, overrepresented and vulnerable populations, impact of homelessness on child development, barriers to exiting homelessness, and service needs;
  2. understanding stigma and labeling;
  3. harm reduction; and
  4. recognizing and responding to signs of suicide risk.


PA-SH 2.05

All direct service personnel are trained on, or demonstrate competency in, understanding the special service needs of service recipients, including, as appropriate:
  1. individuals coping with substance use and/or mental health issues, including dual diagnosis;
  2. individuals coping with trauma, including how to recognize trauma and appropriate interventions for addressing the acute needs of trauma victims;
  3. individuals with HIV/AIDS;
  4. individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or gender non-conforming;
  5. individuals and families who have been victims of violence, abuse, or neglect;
  6. individuals who may be the victims of human trafficking or sexual exploitation, including screening methods to identify potential victims;
  7. pregnant and parenting mothers and/or fathers with young children;
  8. runaway and homeless children and youth;
  9. persons with current or past criminal justice involvement;
  10. persons with current or past child welfare system involvement;
  11. persons with developmental disabilities; and
  12. older adults.


PA-SH 2.06

Case managers and other relevant staff are trained on, or demonstrate competency in:
  1. basic counseling skills;
  2. conducting safety assessments, when service recipients are victims of human trafficking, sexual exploitation, or domestic violence;
  3. conducting assessments using standardized instruments;
  4. local housing resources;
  5. conducting housing searches;
  6. landlord engagement; 
  7. issues related to individuals involved with multiple systems; and
  8. reconnecting runaway and homeless youth to their families.

Fundamental Practice

PA-SH 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.


PA-SH 2.08

Supervisors or other designated personnel are available or on call 24 hours a day.


PA-SH 2.09

The agency minimizes the number of workers assigned to persons served 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.


One of the most important aspects of care for victims of human trafficking and other forms of trauma is to be able to develop a consistent, trusting relationship with one staff person who serves as the central coordinator for the full myriad of needed services.


PA-SH 2.10

Employee workloads support the achievement of client 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 persons served.