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Section I: Scope of Services

ETHICAL STANDARD 1.1: The victim assistance provider understands his/her legal responsibilities, limitations, and the implications of his/her actions within the service delivery setting, and performs duties in accord with relevant laws, regulations, policies, and legislated rights of persons served.

ETHICAL STANDARD 1.2: The victim assistance provider accurately represents his/her professional title, qualifications, and/or credentials in interactions with the people served and in public advertising.

Commentary: Victim assistance providers should disclose their job titles and professional credentials to everyone they serve, as well as in all written professional communications, to avoid misunderstandings and misconceptions about their credentials, role, and responsibilities. Exception may be made if credentials are unrelated to the job or role being performed (e.g., a provider who has a counseling degree but will not be providing counseling services). Victim assistance providers are obligated to inform victims/survivors of the nature of services to be provided and any purposes, goals, procedures, or limitations that may affect the professional relationship.

If a victim assistance provider’s name appears on business cards, letterhead, brochures, directories, advertisements, or electronic media, the provider’s title should be included. In advertisements, victim assistance providers may describe their fees, professional qualifications, contact information, and the services provided. Victim assistance providers are discouraged from advertising services in terms of quality or uniqueness and from using victim/survivor testimonials. Advertisements are to be factual.

Victim assistance providers should abstain from fraudulent use of letterhead, business cards, electronic or social media, and other promotional materials; or of any record, diploma, or certificate. Fraudulent use includes materials that have been illegally or fraudulently obtained or issued or which misrepresent the victim assistance provider in any way.

ETHICAL STANDARD 1.3: The victim assistance provider maintains a high standard of professional conduct.

Commentary: Victim assistance providers are to be respectful of rules, procedures, and appropriate behavior before a court or other adjudicatory body. They should avoid improper behavior and the appearance of improper behavior, and should not engage in any conduct that would negatively affect their ability to provide services. Such conduct may include, but is not limited to violence, dishonesty, conflict of interest, personal bias, interference with the administration of justice, and abuse of a professional position or public office. In rare cases, exceptions might include conduct clearly directed toward demonstration, protest, or other forms of social change advocacy; victim assistance providers are strongly encouraged to seriously consider the costs, benefits, and ethical implications of such actions and to seek consultation and supervision about such advocacy.

Victim assistance providers should not use their official positions to secure gifts, monetary rewards, or special privileges or advantages. They should clearly separate personal views from those adopted by their organizations, and should not communicate personal views on organizational letterhead or any other organizational communication tools (e.g., social media).

When acting as a supervisory authority, the victim assistance provider shall refrain from knowingly assigning a task to an individual who is not licensed to perform that task or has not developed the competence to perform such a task.

ETHICAL STANDARD 1.4: The victim assistance provider achieves and maintains a high level of professional competence.

Commentary: Victim assistance providers should take all necessary and reasonable steps to maintain continuing competence in their service provision, including knowledge of relevant scientific and professional information related to the services rendered. Providers should recognize the need for ongoing professional development, including compliance with any licensing requirements, and make appropriate use of professional, technical, and administrative resources. Victim assistance providers should consult a supervisor or other knowledgeable individual when they need advice or assistance in how to best serve the interests of a victim/survivor.

Victim assistance providers are to limit their services to those permitted by the position they hold in the victim assistance program, and to confine the services they provide to tasks within their individual range of knowledge and skill. Victim assistance providers should refer victims/survivors to other professionals when the services required are beyond the provider’s competence.

The victim assistance provider shall not provide services while impaired by medication, alcohol, drugs, or other chemicals, and shall refrain from providing services when experiencing a mental or physical condition that impairs their ability to practice safely.

ETHICAL STANDARD 1.5: The victim assistance provider who provides a service for a fee informs a person served about the fee at the initial session or meeting.

Commentary: For any billed services, fee schedules and payment options should be agreed to at the beginning of the professional relationship. Victim service providers should discuss with victims/survivors how insurance reimbursements will be handled; any charges that may be incurred for missed or canceled appointments; and any other financial issues. Payment arrangements should be provided in writing to persons served. Victim assistance providers should be able to furnish, on request, a written explanation of the charges for any services rendered.

Victim assistance providers may not accept goods or services from the victims they serve or from third parties outside of the approved fee arrangement. Accepting goods or services is appropriate only in exceptional circumstances (e.g., when refusal could imply disrespect for culturally specific customs). In these cases, victim assistance providers should seek consultation or supervision regarding possible conflicts of interest or appropriate disposition of the goods received.

Victim assistance providers should neither accept nor give a commission, rebate, fee split, or other form of remuneration for the referral of a person served.

computer iconVAT Online is a free Web-based victim assistance training program that includes training modules on the topics of “Assessing Victim’s Needs,” “Referrals,” and “Collaboration.”