Home » FAQ

 How do I volunteer?

Link to volunteer application form

How can I sign up for a training?

Instructions for registration are generally listed with each training as it is scheduled.  Here is our current Training Schedule.

I’ve already been trained, how do I get into a Circle?

Please contact the circle coordinator that connected you with one of our trainings.  If you found us directly, email info@coloradocosa.org with your name and the city/zip code of your residence, and we will get you connected with the closest site to your area.

I have a friend who is an SO who I think could really use a Circle, what should I do?

Consult the Colorado CoSA Core Member Referral Checklist and Form for further instructions.

How do the circles work (Who, what, when, why, how)?

Eventually, most people convicted of a sexual offense will come back to the community.  Most won’t offend again – – some at are high risk to commit a new offense and are at even greater risk because they have no sources of support in the community.  That’s the core member for whom Circles of Support & Accountability were designed.  Here’s how it unfolds:

  1. When a potential core member is about to be released to the community on parole or probation, a referral is made to Colorado CoSA with notification about the location where the core member will be living.
  2. Colorado CoSA will refer the core member to an existing local Circle OR assist the community in creating a local Circle if one doesn’t already exist.
  3. The local Circle Coordinator recruits and trains volunteers who are the heart of the CoSA project – – the Inner Circle volunteers (4 or 5 people) will meet with the core member frequently as a group in the beginning (once a week) and will also meet individually, just to build relationships or to accomplish tasks or go to appointments.
  4. The Inner Circle works with the core member on the day-to-day stuff of coming back to the community, living within the law, living a good and healthy life, and working on reestablishing work and personal connections.
  5. There are some underlying principles for the Inner Circle & the core member that have to be present all the time:
    1. A policy of NO SECRETS – – honest disclosure by all members is essential to great communication and to preventing relapses.
    2. Integration & accountability depend on relationships – – CoSA encourages friendships with healthy boundaries.  So, the Inner Circle has to know the core member very, very well and that includes understanding individual cycles of crime and the signs that a core member is struggling.
    3. The Inner Circle and the core member are not alone – – the Outer Circle of advisors, the local coordinator and the Colorado CoSA project are always available to support the important work of each individual Circle.
    4. Everyone can win – – the Circle knows that the community can be safe AND the core member can live a meaningful and productive life, both.
  6.  The Inner Circle is supported by an Outer Circle that includes professionals who know a lot about sexual offenses, victims’ rights, the legal process and more complicated elements of reentering the community after prison or probation.
  7. The Inner Circle & the core member negotiate a “covenant” or agreement that lays out everyone’s responsibilities and commitments.  In the beginning, the covenant will call for frequent meetings and check-ins; it’s a living document that will be amended over time as the core member and the Circle experience successes and challenges.
  8. The local Circle continues as long as needed – – some Circles last about a year, when all agree that the core member is on a good path and has excellent social connections to take the place of the Circle.  Other Circles could last a lifetime!
  9. The definition of success for any local Circle:
    1. The core member has committed no new offenses;
    2. the core member is assessed at a lower risk for re-offense (?);
    3. the core member’s basic needs for food, shelter and safety have been sustainably assured;
    4. a plan for going forward has been put in place and is workable.
  10. And life goes on and the community is safe – – many Circle volunteers stay in touch with their core member and with each other, creating a new community that has taken safety and compassion and cost-savings into its own hands and made something beautiful.

Is it safe to volunteer?

You bet – – All CoSA projects are dedicated to the safety of all involved, including the volunteers, the core member and, ultimately, the entire community.  Here are some of the mechanisms in place to guarantee safety for all:

  1. High quality training – – Volunteers for local Circles are carefully screened and receive the best, most consistent training from CoSA experts.  They have all the information and resources they’ll need to effectively and safely participate in a Circle of Support & Accountability with a core member.
  2. Excellent preparation – – The local Circle participants get to know the core member well in advance and the core member is also prepped on participation in the Circle.  The agreement or covenant among the members solidifies this productive and safe relationship structure.
  3. The group approach – – The volunteers meet the core member as a group initially and make decisions as a collective all the time.  Individual meetings that are scheduled with the core member are discussed and known about ahead of time, and volunteers can pair up as needed.
  4. Layers and layers of support and resources – The Inner Circle of volunteers and the core member are always surrounded by helpful people, including the local Circle Coordinator, the local Outer Circle of subject matter experts & professionals, and the Colorado CoSA staff and board, as well as national experts on Circles of Support & Accountability.  You support the core member – – we support YOU.

What are the requirements to be eligible to volunteer?

  • A belief in community responsibility for the safety and health of ALL its members.
  • A willingness and ability to suspend judgment and to offer a hand to someone who is at the fringes of society.
  • Attendance at a Colorado CoSA Orientation & Volunteer Training (before or within the first few months of your participation in a circle).
  • Completion of a volunteer interview and a Background check.
  • Match with a local circle.

What are the requirements to be eligible as a core member?

  1. Convicted of a sex offense, AND
  2. Assessed as likely to re-offend, AND
  3. With few supports and pro-social connections in the community where paroled or on probation
  4. If the person referred doesn’t fit the criteria for CoSA, we’ll do our best to direct the referral entity and/or the person who has committed a sexual offense to the best possible community support resources.

What is the difference between the “inner circle” and the “outer circle”?  Do you need volunteers for both?

The “inner circle” is a group of four or five committed, diverse volunteers who meet with the core member regularly (in a group and sometimes individually) and who function as a team with the core member to help him stay law abiding, to get his basic needs met and support him in integrating into the community.  The “outer circle” is a fluid group of advisors who have expertise in the area of sex offenses, community supervision, victims’ rights and law enforcement.  If the local circle coordinator has questions about how the process is going in general or about a specific core member, the outer circle will be a major resource.  Dedicated volunteers are always needed for both the inner and outer circles!  Please contact Colorado CoSA at info@cocosa.org to find out how to get involved, and thank you!

There’s no local circle project near me.  Are you planning on expanding?

Circles of Support & Accountability are developed in specific communities when a core member is identified as about to parole to a specific area or when a core member already on probation or parole is referred.  Wherever the need is identified, Colorado CoSA will work with the community to understand the Circles approach, get excellent information about community safety and risk mitigation, and develop a Circle to assist a core member in staying law abiding and integrating into society.  If you know a core member who might be eligible for CoSA in a community without an existing Circle, please contact Colorado CoSA at info@cocosa.org; if you’re interested in volunteering with a Circle, we can also help you find one within reasonable driving distance or assist in identifying a comparable volunteer project (like restorative justice).

How can I donate to show my support for Colorado CoSA?

Colorado CoSA is an approved 501c3 organization, and can receive tax deductible donations.  If you are interested in donating to help support our mission, please contact us at info@cocosa.org.