Standards are increasingly used as a way to ensuring quality, particularly where organisations are accountable to the communities, providing services to the clients and receiving funding from the donors. They are a way of setting a benchmark – helping us to know if we are ensuring that we are responsive to the needs of our clients in appropriate ways and if we have the organisational practices that can make this happen. Well-run organisations can deliver quality of service. So good practice can ensure that not only are the needs of users of services met, but that also these services are efficiently managed, staff are effectively trained and supported, the organisation is accountable to all of its stakeholders and meets its financial and legal obligations.
These standards are based on universal principles of what guides and informs good practice in the delivery of community legal services. The standards are not mandatory, but evidencing that they are built into the core of the service to be delivered provides an assurance that the organisation is striving for quality of delivery.
This approach is relevant to all agencies, both large and small. Resource limitations should not be seen as a reason for not striving for the highest possible quality of service.
OUR INTENTION IN PRODUCING THESE STANDARDS
Our intention in producing these standards is to assist organisations towards quality of service delivery, ensuring as far as possible that across Bangladesh, those in greatest need of support through CLS are assured that wherever they are, and whatever service they access, there can be an expectation that they will receive a service that is delivered to the highest possible standard.
We intend to involve CLS providers in wider discussion on the issues we have raised in these standards, hopefully to achieve a common set of quality standards that will be the guiding principles for future development. We recognise that experienced CLS service providers will be familiar with the issues that are covered by the Standards, but we hope that they will be helpful in providing a checklist of good practice. We also intend to develop a range of guidance notes, linked to the Standards that will build into a manual of CLS practice.