Circles of Support and Accountability

Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) are community-based initiatives that operate across Canada.  Each circle involves a group of trained volunteers supporting one core member.  The core member is the person who is returning to the community after being detained to the end of sentence because of a sexual offence history.  The group supports and holds the core member accountable.

Background

The Chaplaincy Division at the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) was an active partner in the creation of the CoSA approach, and remains involved in the support of CoSA initiatives across Canada.  The model has gained international recognition for its effectiveness in the successful re-entry and reintegration of sexual offenders into communities.

A CoSA initiative includes a group of trained volunteers and the core member, which meets on a regular basis. The circle is guided by a covenant, which is an informalagreement between the core member and the circle volunteers.  The core member voluntarily commits to openly relating to the circle about his identified needs.

Volunteers also meet with the core member individually to help with any re-entry challenges.  The CoSA volunteers themselves are professionally supported.

They work in conjunction with community agencies, treatment providers, psychologists, parole and probation officers.

The objective of CoSA is reflected in the motto:

No More Victims

Key Roles

The reality is that most offenders will eventually be released into our communities. CoSA helps contribute to enhancing public safety by providing a healthy environment for the core member of the group. The circle supports the core member by:

  • Journeying through difficulties and emergencies;
  • confronting inappropriate attitudes or behaviours;
  • advocating with treatment providers, community groups, police services and other professionals in the community;
  • mediating community concerns; and
  • helping to celebrate the core member's successes and anniversaries.

Join the Circle

CoSA is looking for volunteers who are interested in serving their community and journeying with individuals as they re-enter society. Circle members make a one year commitment, receive extensive training, and are continually supported.

Want to Know More?

Additional information about federal corrections in Canada is available on CSC’s Web site at www.csc-scc.gc.ca.

January 2010