CoSA stands for Circles of Support and Accountability.
CoSA is a reintegration program, inspired by restorative justice principles, that reduces victimization by assisting people who have committed sexual offenses to lead responsible, constructive, and accountable lives in our community.
Ever since CoSA was formed by a dedicated group of volunteers in 1994 in Hamilton, Ontario, CoSA has had one primary goal: No More Victims.
Over the years, CoSA sites across Canada have monitored and supported thousands of recently incarcerated people, referred to as Core Members, who are voluntarily seeking a crime-free life and a place in society.
By supporting Core Members and holding them accountable, CoSA keeps our community safer and healthier.
CoSA's Circle Method
CoSA’s Circle method encourages honest discussion, support, and accountability. Highly trained volunteers and staff offer one-on-one and group engagement with Core Members on a regular basis for a minimum of one year; often for much longer.
We also hold larger group activities that foster ongoing learning, participation and community engagement including a monthly facilitated Discussion Series, and annual potluck meals (BBQ, Thanksgiving Dinner, Christmas/Holiday Party), offering a safe environment for core members to discuss relevant topics, practice social skills and feel valued and respected.
CoSA’s method works…here’s how
The Core Member and three or four trained and screened community volunteers comprise a Circle. The volunteers assist their Core Member by:
- Role modeling pro-social choices, attitudes and behaviour to encourage successful integration in the community
- Facilitating practical needs (i.e.: access to medical services, social assistance, employment, affordable housing, etc.) and by providing a consistent network of emotional support;
- Developing constructive strategies and solutions to everyday problems and concerns;
- Being available if a crisis arises;
- Challenging behaviours and attitudes that may be associated with offending cycle;
- Celebrating successes.
Providing constant support and compassionate accountability helps Core Members change by learning new skills and strategies to fulfil their life goals and recognize the impacts of their past offences. When Core Members are treated with dignity and respect, and offered an opportunity to change, by trusted volunteers, their reintegration journey is more successful. CoSA strives to achieve No More Victims using a balanced No One is Disposable approach when working with core members.
CoSA keeps your community safe.
CoSA’s method has been proven to dramatically lower rates of re-offending. Peer reviewed studies have demonstrated that those involved in CoSA, compared to matched groups without CoSA support, have a reduced rate of reoffence of 70% to 80%.
CoSA is the most effective approach for breaking the vicious cycle of sexual offences…and CoSA is unique in that it’s the only community-based reintegration program working exclusively with people who have offended sexually. The CoSA model is so successful, it is now operating in over 30 cities in Canada and many other countries world-wide.
Developing a safe, meaningful, and engaged life provides strong motivation for Core Members to remain crime-free. Support and accountability prevent further sexual harm.