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Below are the most common frequently asked questions about becoming an accredited sexual and domestic violence program in Virginia.  If you have a question that is not addressed below, please do not hesitate to contact the Professional Standards Team

1. Why should we apply?
Professional Standards accreditation confirms that your agency is operating at the highest level of practice standards in the sexual and domestic violence field.  This endorsement will be helpful for agencies to convey the quality of their programs to potential clients, community members, staff, board, and funders.  Additionally, agencies considering accreditation and those accredited will have access to ongoing technical assistance, peer consultation, and emerging practices.
2. Is accreditation under the Professional Standards voluntary?
Yes, accreditation under the Professional Standards is a voluntary process.  Virginia Code § 9.1-116.3 states, "The Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Program Professional Standards Committee (the Committee) shall establish voluntary accreditation standards and procedures..."
3. What is the cost of applying?
The cost to apply is $150 per agency.  This is a one-time fee during the 3-year accreditation cycle, meaning agencies do not need to pay annually to maintain accreditation.  The fee is due when you submit your agency's application for accreditation.
4. Is accreditation tied to funding?
Accreditation will not be tied to funding by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) or the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) during the initial 3-year accreditation cycle. 
5. After the three years to implement this accreditation process under the Professional Standards, will accreditation be tied to funding?
After the initial 3-year accreditation, DCJS and VDSS will re-evaluate the accreditation process is going and make a determination on funding.
6. If any agency applies for accreditation and is denied, would the agency be allowed to reapply during the 3-year period?
Denied applicants may be given preference to apply during the next application cycle.  As available, support, assistance, and resources will be provided to these agencies in preparing for future applications.

7. Should organizations only apply if they know they currently meet all standards; or is it suggested that agencies should apply if they believe they  are close but will need help?

Either.  If you believe you qualify as fully accredited, apply.  You may also apply if you believe your agency falls  in the provisional accreditation category.  In that case, the Professional Standards Coordinator and Consultant will collaborate with you and offer assistance to your agency in helping you reach full accreditation.

8. What are the expectations for each Professional Standard?
The expectations for each Professional Standard are listed underneath each Standard in the Professional Standards Manual.
9. How will we verify that we are meeting the Professional Standards? For example, under Standard #3, supervisors are required to meet regularly with staff.  Would we just say we have bi-weekly staff meetings and talk to staff daily?
How your agency is meeting each standard will be evaluated based on: a) a question on the accreditation application, b) an attachment (e.g. policy) that accompanies the accreditation application, and/or c) the site visit.  The site visit will be a combination of having documents ready for the Professional Standards Consultant to view and answering questions from the Professional Standards Consultant. 
10. How many times will the DCJS Professional Standards Consultant visit the agency? How long will the site visit take? Then, from the time that the Consultant visits the agency to the time that the Professional Standards Committee determines whether the agency should be accredited, how long does that take?
Once an agency submits a completed application for accreditation to DCJS, the Professional Standards Coordinator and the Professional Standards Consultant will confirm receipt of the application.  After an initial application review, the Consultant will schedule the site visit. Site visits will be conducted by the Consultant within four months of the application submission date.  It is not anticipated that more than one site visit will be necessary, but exceptions may occur. Submitted application responses and documents will be reviewed by the Coordinator within the same time period.
It is expected that the entire accreditation process should take approximately six months from the time an application is submitted until a final decision is made by the Professional Standards Committee. In the event of unexpected or extraordinary circumstances, this process may be delayed; but every effort will be made to complete the process in a timely manner.
11. How many hours of training are required for new staff within their first three months?
Staff, volunteers, or interns who have incidental contact with persons accessing services fall under Level 1: 8 hours of training (see Page 11 of the Professional Standards Manual).  Direct service staff, volunteers, or interns fall under Level 2: 40 hours of training (see Pages 12-13 of the Professional Standards Manual).
12. Is the civil rights training yearly or just for all new staff?
The civil rights training must be completed every grant cycle by grant-funded staff and those who are responsible for the grant, including the Project Director.  In addition, the training must be completed by all new staff hired during the grant cycle.  Your agency can meet the civil rights training requirements through viewing the online training models offered through the Office on Civil Rights.  The grant-funded staff must view the following training modules at least once per grant cycle: the civil rights overview modules, the standard assurance modules, and the modules on the obligations to provide services to limited English proficient (LEP) individuals.
13. Can we get a certificate for the civil rights training?
The Department of Justice does not have a certificate that will generate after you have successfully completed the civil rights training.

14. Standard #3 of the Professional Standards requires that agencies must maintain a plan that protects against the interruption of core services.  How are “core services” defined?

For the purposes of the Professional Standards, “core services” are defined as free and confidential 24-hour crisis intervention services for all victims of sexual and/or domestic violence in the agency’s community.  Such services must include a 24-hour hotline (operated by your agency or through other means), provisions for emergency housing, and emergency medical and judicial accompaniment for victims of sexual and/or domestic violence.

It is important to note that a plan protecting against the interruption of core services must include protection against physical interruptions, such as a power outage, and fiscal interruptions, such as a reduction in funding.

15. Will training materials be provided for Board members? Who will do the training?
On Page 13 of the Professional Standards Manual, the Training Matrix outlines the content required for board members during their orientation training.  This training is to be completed in their first year of service.  You can also find information for boards on the Resources - Boards page, as well as information regarding board training on the Resources – Training for Board, Staff, and Volunteers page.  Your agency will develop and implement the board training.
16. Do we have to utilize another way of tracking if we put all of our data in VAdata or is that acceptable?
VAdata is an acceptable database for tracking data for the professional standards.  You can use any database that complies with VAWA's confidentiality standards and personally identifying information (PII) to track your data for the professional standards.
17. What is the VAWA Confidentiality link referenced in the webinar?
18. Can you say more about what we should be tracking regarding the number of requests for crisis intervention services since shelter and hospital accompaniment is listed elsewhere--is this just specific types of hotline calls?
Yes, crisis intervention services data would include hotline calls as well as any other services that provide support, information, resources, and/or advocacy to a survivor in crisis.  Please see the definition of Crisis Intervention in the Glossary of the Professional Standards Manual.

19. If an organization does not provide all services listed (sexual assault exam accompaniment, for example), but refers to a local agency who provides those services, would that meet the accreditation standards?

It would depend on the type of service and what agency is used for the service provision.  The Coordinator and the Consultant would need to examine how that cooperation works between the two agencies.  We would look at both organizations, any applicable MOUs, the policies and procedures for the referral, and how the process is working between the two agencies.

20. Regarding Professional Standard #10, does this mean we need to provide 24/7 accompaniment for going to the 24-hour magistrate?
Yes, you should have 24/7 judicial accompaniment available.  If this accompaniment is not a service that your agency provides, then coordinating that accompaniment with a sister agency and/or other community organization in the same jurisdiction would meet the standard.
21. Are prevention standards only applicable to programs receiving prevention funding?
Under Professional Standard #16, a prevention plan is required for all programs.  For those programs that are not receiving prevention funding, the option to “focus on building capacity through prevention education awareness efforts” would be the best alternative.