|USE OF THE TERM "CERTIFIED" and/or "CERTIFICATION" IN THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA|
CASVSP is posting a question received regarding Use of the Terms "Certified" and/or "Certification" in the State of California.
Q: Should providers use the term “Certified” in Supervised Visitation and Exchange Services?
A: Currently, California law does not recognize professional supervised visitation providers as “certified” individuals and/or certified entities for supervised visitation services. While many individuals or organizations may assert that they are offering “certified” trainings, it is important that the court, the provider, and families involved in the supervised visitation and exchange process understand that certification does not exist in California and the use of such language is misleading and can be a misrepresentation with legal implications. Professional providers of supervised visitation in California should not and cannot advertise themselves as “certified,” regarding their role as supervised visitation and exchange service providers.
Family Code 3200.5 and Standard 5.20 refer to supervised visitation providers as either (1) “professional” or a (2) “non-professional”. The statutory provisions identify key areas for required qualifications and training relevant to each type of provider. The California Association of Supervised Visitation Service Providers, Inc. (CASVSP) has long advocated for a certification process as many providers have indicated that they are interested in both uniformity and oversight to ensure that they are in compliance with statutory requirements and exercising best practices for the provision of services in California. As CASVSP is focused on supervised visitation providers located within the State of California, as opposed to a national and/or international scope, this commentary is of great importance to the work and mission of the organization. Research on the issue of “certification and certified professionals” resulted in the understanding that there is not, as of yet, any California state agency willing to provide the oversight that any reliable “certification” process would entail. CASVSP believes that individuals, and not merely agencies, should be able to participate in a certification process because continued approved education (which is not required in FC 3200.5 nor Standard 5.20) is a key element of high-quality service delivery and best practices for program staff. Additionally, CASVSP believes that an important consideration in establishing a certification program involves a diverse population study approach that includes all families that may be a part of the supervised visitation and exchange process.
Professional providers of supervised visitation in California should exercise caution and educate themselves regarding individuals and organizations promoting the “certification of supervised visitation providers”. Any application of certification not established by the state of California would be void in California. The professional provider is prohibited from marketing, advertising, promoting, identifying, or using the word “certified” if they are working as a professional provider in California. Additionally, any Certification or Certificate training program that implies “certification” and/or “certified providers of supervised visitation” would also be deemed inapplicable in California because the state has not approved or adopted a certification training program for the field of practice of supervised visitation.
CASVSP has received numerous questions regarding whether the "Certificate Programs" offered through other organizations, or new Standards of Supervised Visitation and Exchange created outside of California by other organizations will meet the training requirements in California pursuant to Family Code section 3200.5.
As best practices, professional providers of supervised visitation are encouraged to contact an attorney or seek legal consul regarding the statutory requirements and duties for providers of supervised visitation in California. It is CASVSP's understanding that these other standards and Certificate Programs were developed and created based minimally on national standards of practice. In addition, these standards were developed at the specific request and in consultation with another national organization and its partners. These new standards, including other national standards of practice conflict in many areas with the California Uniform Standards of Practice for Providers of Supervised Visitation (see Standard 5.20 of the California Standards of Judicial Administration). Because these set of standards conflict regarding the basic role and duties of providers in the state of California, CASVSP does not support their use for the purpose of meeting the state statutory training requirements under Family Code section 3200.5(d)(1). As most providers are aware, and through the organizations work with the state Legislature, professional providers of supervised visitation in California are strongly encouraged to contact the Judicial Council of California, Center for Families, Children & the Courts /Operations and Programs Division, Access to Visitation Grant Program for guidance regarding whether trainings offered by other states, other organizations, local trainers, etc., would meet the providers statutory requirement under Family Code section 3200.5(d)(1).
Since the enactment of Family Code section 3200.5 in 2013, CASVSP has received numerous complaints and concerns regarding other trainers, trainings (state and local), and state training organizations offering supervised visitation trainings intended (intending) to meet the Family Code requirement. These issues include, but is not limited to:
(1) the trainer/s and/or organization are not a subject matter expert on the underlying intent of California law and Standard 5.20;
(2) use of training curricula that have been in direct conflict with Standard 5.20;
(3) trainer/s and/or organizations do not teach or practice based on Standard 5.20 and FC section 3200.5;
(4) trainer/s and/or organizations contradiction of best program practices via Standard 5.20;
(5) trainers and/or organization themselves have not trained through the Judicial Council (the Judicial Council developed the state standards);
(6) trainer/s and/or organizations training on Standard 5.20 without any contact, consultation, or guidance from the Judicial Council program staff;
(7) training participants have stated (written complaints) that when they ask the trainer and/or organization how were they trained, or how many trainings they attended by the Judicial Council, or who approved their training, most, if not all of the trainers said to us, “I have attended one Judicial Council or just the Judicial Council training so I understand the standards”; and
(8) participants attend trainings by other organizations that the superior court does not, will not, and/or won’t accept because the training offered was not a part of , or done in consultation with the Judicial Council program staff. Family Code section 3200.5 does not direct who can and cannot train. As such, professional providers have the discretion to attend any training offered by any individual, organization, etc. Professional providers should note that the courts have been encouraged to accept trainings provided by the Judicial Council program staff and/or approved trainings. Additionally, the court has the discretion and authority to adopt local court rules and/or set forth any additional terms and conditions, procedures, policies, or requirements to implement the statutory requirements under Family Code section 3200.5 so long as the requirements do not conflict with the law (Family Code section 3200.5).
Last, any requirements established by the court regarding the courts use of or creation of a list of supervised visitation monitors is within the discretion of the court. There is no statutory governance regarding the courts use of a list of supervised visitation provides. And so, the court may implement any terms and conditions they would like for their local service providers as long as the terms and conditions do not conflict with applicable law.