Domestic Violence Helplines

International Council for Helplines offers accreditation to all domestic violence helpline programs to ensure high quality standards and ethical practice. 

International Council for Helplines accreditation standards define and establish best practices in the domestic violence helpline field. The Standards focus on areas outlined below in order for programs to have the infrastructure in place to provide compassionate and non-judgmental services to those in need of emotional support. 

If you are interested in learning more about International Council for Helpline’s accreditation process (see below) and/or would like a copy of our Accreditation Standards Manual, contact us or email [email protected].

How can becoming accredited benefit my organization?
Accreditation can benefit your organization in many ways, including:

  • Provides a competitive advantage with funders
  • Increases credibility within the community you serve
  • Enhances your organization’s reputation by demonstrating your commitment to quality and best practices
  • Provides an objective assessment of your day-to-day operations
  • Promotes a positive culture within your organization and programs
  • Builds in levels of accountability and strategic planning within your infrastructure.

Why International Council for Helplines?

International Council for Helplines (formally CONTACT USA) has been a helpline membership organization offering accreditation services for over 50 years.  International Council for Helplines is a leader in the field of helpline accreditation and is solely dedicated to establishing best practice standards of service for emotional support helplines.  The International Council for Helplines Accreditation Examiners are leaders in their respective fields and use a collaborative approach in working with organizations in completing accreditation requirements.

What is the process for obtaining accreditation?
Domestic violence helpline accreditation standards cover 9 areas:

  1. Governance and Leadership
  2. Fiscal and Administrative
  3. Facilities, Equipment and Safety
  4. Training
  5. Program Management
  6. Supervision, Support and Evaluation of Specialists
  7. Suicide Prevention and Intervention
  8. Management of Specific Contact Types
  9. Domestic Violence Helpline Specific Standards

*If an organization is having more than one helpline accredited then standards 1-3 above are addressed only once.  Standards 4-9 apply to each specific helpline.

All organizations successfully meeting the accreditation requirements are awarded a 3-year accreditation. 

The accreditation process typically takes between 6-9 months.  Below are the steps involved in the accreditation process:

Step 1:
Complete the online Application for Accreditation and Membership and submit.

Step 2:
An invoice with the appropriate fees will be emailed to the organization contact (see accreditation cost section below for the fee structure).

Step 3:
Once the application is received, the International Council for Helpline Accreditation Administrator sets up a call with the organization to review the accreditation process and answer questions.  The Accreditation Administrator will email the following documents:

  • Pre-accreditation Assessment Questionnaire(s)
  • International Council for Helplines Statement of Values
  • Accreditation Standards Manuals (if not previously sent)
  • Component Response Templates and Documentation Submittal Procedures.

The Accreditation Administrator is available throughout the process to assist with questions and be a resource to the organization.

Step 4:
All documentation addressing the components listed in the Accreditation Manual(s) are assembled and submitted to a secure online location (details provided in the Documentation Submittal Procedures).  Note – all documentation must be received at least 4 weeks prior to the scheduled site visit.

Step 5:
After the completed component response templates and supporting documentation is uploaded, two accreditation examiners are assigned to complete a review of the submitting documentation, conduct interviews during a scheduled site visit and complete the scoring of each component.  Organizations have the option of a virtual or in-person site visit. 

The organization and accreditation examiners work collaboratively to determine dates for the site visit.  Note:  if the site visit is in-person and you would like to use your organization’s tax exemption status for any travel arrangements, please let the lead accreditation examiner know before any travel is booked.

Step 6:
The Accreditation Administrator will provide an interview schedule for the organization to complete prior to the site visit. 

Step 7:
The accreditation examiners conduct the site visit interviews. For virtual visits, interviews can be spread out over several days depending on schedules.  For in-person visits, the site visit is typically 1-2 days, depending on the number helplines going through the accreditation process. 

Step 8:
The accreditation report(s), scoresheet(s) and accreditation certificate(s) are emailed within 30 days of the site visit.

In the event that a program does not meet the minimum standards for accreditation, a 6-month contingency plan is implemented outlining requirements the organization is to meet in order to become accredited.

How much does accreditation cost?
All organizations accredited by International Council for Helplines pay an annual membership due of $500.  Note that the membership dues will be pro-rated for the first year based upon the month of joining International Council for Helplines. 

The total accreditation fee is based upon the number of helplines going through accreditation.  Please see the fee schedule below:

Primary accreditation fee (First helpline)        $1,950

Additional accreditation fees:

Second helpline                                                       $1,250

Third helpline                                                           $1,000

Fourth helpline                                                         $750

Fifth helpline                                                             $500

If the organization would like an in-person site visit, the organization is responsible for the accreditation examiner travel expenses. The travel costs can vary depending on the organization’s location.  For budget purposes, estimated travel costs are typically $2,500 to include travel, lodging and food.

Questions or need additional information? Click here or email us at [email protected].