Safe Berks relies on strategic partnerships and collaborations to best protect and serve victims of intimate partner violence – to supplement and enhance our work and the work of our partners, and to assist us in achieving our mission. Safe Berks proactively seeks partnerships with organizations and institutions that are critical to the safety and well-being of victims of IPV, including the health care system, law enforcement and the courts, child protective services, the welfare system, public and private housing providers, mental health providers, schools, colleges and universities, and myriad others. Please donate to Safe Berks EITC Program to get up to 90% state business tax credit! women and kids apply buttonYour contribution will keep your tax dollars in Berks County. Through Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program, your eligible business can fund educational programs with its tax dollars rather than send them to Harrisburg! When your business makes a contribution to Safe Berks, an approved Educational Improvement Organization (EIO), the State Department of Community and Economic Development gives your business a tax credit equal to 75% of the business’s contribution, or 90% if the same amount for two consecutive years. An EITC contribution to Safe Berks supports our Ready to Read Program. This literacy development program provides both instruction and assessment for participants, children in our residential programs. Questions? Call Mary Kay Bernosky, Chief Executive Officer, at 610-370-7602 Thanks in advance for your support! The following businesses made a contribution to Berks Women in Crisis through the PA Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program in 2014-15: Comcast Corporation First Priority Bank Fulton Bank Lift, Inc. Meridian Bank Metro Bank National Penn Bank Quadrant EPP USA, Inc. Susquehanna Patriot Bank University of Pittsburgh Health Plan VIST Bank Weis Markets, Inc. Safe Berks, the Reading Police Department & the Lethality Assessment Program (LAP) In 2014 Safe Berks and the Reading Police Department entered into an agreement via the PA Coalition Against Domestic Violence to implement the Maryland Lethality Assessment Project (LAP) in the city of Reading. The LAP provides training for police officers to implement an assessment tool (11 questions) to the victim that measures the level of lethality, or the likelihood of domestic violence homicide, when responding to a domestic violence call. At that time, the officer will contact the Safe Berks hotline and speak to an advocate. The officer will then offer to connect the victim directly to the advocate via that call and a brief safety plan is developed. The officer will activate the LAP protocol and perform the assessment if he or she sees evidence of physical injury, or if he or she believes that the assessment is warranted based on repeat response to the same address/victim, or any other “gut-level” factor that indicates to them a high level of danger. Berks County STOP Team: Safe Berks, the District Attorney’s office, and Centro Hispano STOP (Services, Training, Officers, and Prosecutors) is a state-level grant program administered by the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). The STOP Program promotes a coordinated, multidisciplinary approach to enhancing advocacy and improving the criminal justice system’s response to intimate partner violence. It encourages the development and improvement of effective law enforcement and prosecution strategies and the development and improvement of advocacy and services in cases involving violent crimes against women and all forms of intimate partner violence. The committee is chaired by Ellie Sarno, BWIC attorney, and Leah Rotenberg, Assistant District Attorney. Members include the D.A.’s office, Centro Hispano, Adult Probation and Parole, local police departments, the Children’s Alliance Center, local hospitals, and other stakeholders. EITC Program: Safe Berks “Ready to Read” Project EITC (Educational Improvement Tax Credit) contributions to BWIC support “Ready to Read,” a literacy development program within which BWIC provides both instruction and assessment for children in our Residential program, and is aligned with many Berks County School Districts. Our outcomes for this program show marked improvement in reading proficiency for our children, a necessary element for success in school. By participating in the EITC program, a company not only supports a worthy cause, but also gains the appreciation of its employees by helping an organization that helps the community.The EITC program offers tax credits equal to 75% of the contribution, or 90% if it is the same amount for two consecutive years.   Safe Berks Prevention Advisory Group Primary prevention efforts strive to prevent violence before it occurs. Since 1999, Safe Berks has worked toward the prevention of violence through the Education and Community Outreach Department. Recently the Education and Community Outreach Department has shifted its strategy from awareness programs and one-time classroom presentations to more comprehensive efforts to prevent IPV and all forms of violence, including CAMP SAFE BERKS, which addresses violence through a social justice lens. As part of ongoing planning efforts, in 2013 Safe Berks drafted a Prevention Plan and formed a Prevention Advisory Group, whose membership includes young people, educators, school nurses, parents, and representatives from social services agencies, the clergy, law enforcement, health care, and drug and alcohol prevention programs. The Group has several goals:

  • To involve youth and the adults/caring professionals who work with youth to provide input and recommendations regarding Safe Berks Prevention Plan.
  • To increase cooperation and collaboration across agencies/silos in the community.
  • To generate new ideas for prevention.
  • To provide training about intimate partner violence to community providers.
  • To learn about what other agencies/organizations do and the resources they offer.
  • To encourage providers to partner with us to infuse prevention of IPV into their work.

For more information, contact the Education & Community Outreach Department. Healthcare Advisory Board During Safe Berks 2013 Strategic Planning Process, participants identified the health care system as the primary outreach focus for the next five years. The CDC identified intimate partner violence is a serious public health issue worthy of our focus and with profound implications on the health care system overall. Safe Berks Health Care Advisory Board is tasked with bringing stakeholders together to address the gaps in the health care and mental health systems for victims of IPV and strategize solutions. Members include representatives from the Reading Health System and the St. Joseph Regional Health Network, Berks County Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities, Community Prevention Partnership/Nurse Family Partnership, the Berks Community Health Center, UPMC, and private medical practices and clinics. For more information, contact Christine Gilfillan, Chief Operating Officer at 610-370-7608. Safe Berks & Kutztown University In 2008 Kutztown University developed the H.E.A.R.T. (Healing Environment Advocate Response Team) team when Safe Berks and KU’s Women’s Center partnered to bring Safe Berks 60-Hour DV and SA Advocate training to campus. Each spring, Safe Berks trains between 30 and 40 students, faculty and University staff members to become trained domestic violence and sexual assault counselor/advocates. KU’s Women’s Center supports the H.E.A.R.T. program, which maintains a 24/7/365 response team to respond to domestic violence and sexual assault victims on campus. H.E.A.R.T. advocates also promote awareness and education on IPV in campus classrooms and residences.