The Erie County Policy and Planning Council for Children and Families, for which the Mercyhurst University Civic Institute provides technical support, research, assists with grant writing and performs evaluations and assessments that drive the council’s activities, has been named Coalition of the Year by the EPISCenter at Penn State University and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
Andrea Kay Bierer, Community Action Plan coordinator for the civic institute; Amy Eisert, civic institute director; and Joe Markiewicz, co-project director for Penn State Behrend CORE; accepted the award on the coalition’s behalf at the Commonwealth Prevention Alliance Annual Conference held recently in State College.
Originally formed in 1995 as the Erie County Policy and Planning Council for Youth and Families, the coalition has worked to bring agencies and community members together to identify community needs and collaborate in offering high-quality, effective services to children, families and communities in Erie. More recently, it has expanded efforts to include all of Erie County and has joined forces with the Erie Unified Youth Violence Reduction Initiative (Unified Erie) as the prevention branch of a larger initiative to improve communities throughout Erie County.
According to Sandy Hinkle, Communities That Care Consultant with the EPISCenter, the Erie County Policy and Planning Council received the award in recognition of the collaborative board’s efforts on behalf of Erie County. This work has targeted three risk factors: community disorganization, family conflict and parental attitudes favorable toward problem behaviors.
The coalition’s many activities on behalf of the community include:
- Expansion of the Erie Neighborhood Watch Council
- Engagement with churches, businesses, schools, parents, youth, non-profits and government in changing social norms that accept and promote problem behaviors
- Coordination of a religiosity summit attended by more than 60 leaders from diverse faith organizations in Erie County
- Completion of a Neighborhood Concerns Survey that generated 1,335 responses.
Collaborating Partners for this year’s conference included the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, EPISCenter, Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, Pennsylvania Certification Board, Penn State Network on Child Protection and Well-Being and Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.
PHOTO: (l-r) Andrea Bierer, Amy Eisert, Joe Markiewicz