Award Recipient: YWCA Violence Intervention and Prevention Program
Nominator: Tina L. Nixon
For over 20 years, the YWCA of Greater Harrisburg Violence Intervention and Prevention (VIP) Program has provided primary prevention programs including domestic violence and sexual assault prevention, intervention and education services to women and children impacted by domestic and sexual violence in Dauphin and more recently in Perry County. The YWCA VIP's advocates equip victims of abuse and violence with the tools to set and maintain healthy boundaries, express emotion and anger constructively, respect differences, recognize how past patterns lead to unhealthy relationships and enable them to make healthy personal choices moving forward.
In one year, the program provides 3,279 nights of shelter and services to 3,337 victims of domestic or sexual violence and crisis counseling to 3,495 individuals. The program arms victims with the knowledge of resources that are available and provides perspective on situations to develop a sense of personal power and confidence to make critical changes to move forward.
Due to the increase of 31% more Spanish-speaking clients in 2011 than the previous year, the YWCA VIP employs a full-time Hispanic advocate to ensure that Spanish-speaking clients have equal access to services. This advocate provides support group sessions to Spanish-speaking clients, does extensive outreach to the Hispanic community in Dauphin County, and collaborates with the Latino Hispanic American Community Center to ensure victims of domestic violence victims are aware and able to access services. The YWCA VIP also has one of the only Bosnian-speaking advocates in the tri-county area, who provides support groups to victims of domestic violence and their non-offending significant others in the Bosnian community.
Due to statistics which indicate children and young adults are most vulnerable to sexual assaults, but least likely to report incidents, the YWCA initiated the Creating Healthy Attitudes Together (CHAT) Program. The Program which is aimed at middle school and high school students was featured at the National Sexual Assault Conference as one of Pennsylvania's most innovative primary prevention approaches.
The YWCA VIP also strives to develop partnerships with other community organizations. As part of this initiative, a YWCA medical advocate is assigned to the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Pinnacle Health and Community Campus which promotes a collaborative response to victims of domestic violence. This advocate provides training to staff and medical students for response to victims of domestic violence as well as on-site counseling, crisis response, advocacy, referrals, support, safety planning and 24 hour response to emergency room patients. In 2011, 20 trainings were provided to 710 physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains, medical students, and managers at the Hershey Medical Center.
The program has also formed a relationship with the Pennsylvania State Police which has initiated and coordinated major system changes. The YWCA VIP advocates have provided education and training to all incoming cadet classes at the Pennsylvania State Police Academy on domestic violence and sexual assault issues, including child sexual abuse to develop skills to facilitate a victim-centered approach to police investigations.
The YWCA VIP also has the only Family Visitation Center in Dauphin County, which provides services to families that are mandated by court to have supervised and monitored custody exchanges. Over 2,392 visitations were provided in 2011 for parents and their children.
On behalf of victims of crime and the field of victims services, we thank the Violence Intervention and Prevention Program for its innovation, collaboration and unfailing commitment to victims of crime.