Berks Connections/Pretrial Services (BCPS)
BCPS is in the Life Improvement Business! BCPS is a nonprofit agency that has served individuals in the criminal justice system and their families since 1975. The mission of BCPS is to create a safer, more prosperous community by providing services, support and community-based outreach to adult offenders, at-risk youth and their families through successful community reintegration and pretrial-related assistance. BCPS has operated a pretrial program for the County of Berks since 1985 and has provided volunteer based supportive services to inmates and returning citizens and their families since the agency’s inception in 1975. Over the last decade, BCPS has emerged as the leader in the provision and development of reentry services in Berks County. BCPS has provided reentry case management, workforce development, and financial literacy to residents of the Berks County Jail System’s Community Reentry Center on a pre- and post- release basis since 2010. In June of 2015, BCPS became a contracted provider of Reentry Housing Services for the PADOC and in January 2016, BCPS greatly expanded its service base through a contractual relationship with the PADOC to provide a workforce development program, with a robust financial literacy component, to individuals leaving the state prison system and returning to Berks County. Last year BCPS served over 550 individuals in our Reentry Programs. BCPS is committed to using evidenced based practices. Towards that end, BCPS staff have been trained in cognitive techniques and curriculum by the University of Cincinnati’s Corrections Institute.
In addition to providing workforce development programming, BCPS has been at the forefront of innovative employment initiatives for returning citizens in Berks County. BCPS is the founding member of the Employer Advisory Council (EAC). The EAC is led by the organization’s Employment Development Specialist and is comprised of local business leaders who share their expertise to assist with the promotion of BCPS workforce development clients. BCPS directs the EAC’s activities and has successfully organized employer outreach activities and Career Fairs for returning citizens. BCPS also is the founding member of the Community Resource Network (CRN) which was organized in 2004. The CRN is Berks County’s reentry coalition and has over 40 member organizations ranging from government entities, social service providers, faith based organizations, community members, and returning citizens.
Click HERE for the Charter Document for Berks County Community Re-Entry Practice Principles
More information about BCPS can be found on their website.
Peggy Kershner is a Co-Executive Director of BCPS and has been with the agency for 32 years. She was involved in the development of reentry programming for the Berks County Jail’s Community Reentry Center (CRC) and serves as the Chair of the Reentry Sub Committee for Berks County’s Criminal Justice Advisory Board (CJAB). In that role, she worked closely with the University of Cincinnati’s Corrections Institute in the development of the Berks County CJAB’s Reentry Strategic Plan, Peggy serves on Berks County’s Workforce Development Board, the board of the Berks Coalition to End Homelessness and on the board of Humane PA.
Click here to email Peggy.
Christine Guistwite serves as the Reentry Director for BCPS and has been with the agency for 20 years. She was involved in the development of reentry programming for the Berks County Jail’s Community Reentry Center (CRC). Christine supervises 14 Reentry Program staff and serves on the Berks County CJAB’s Reentry Subcommittee. Christine is also responsible for oversight of BCPS Reentry Program curricula and coordinates the cognitive based training regimen for Reentry Program staff.
Kerry Kerschner joined the BCPS management team late last year and has over 10 years of experience working in a management capacity with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. Kerry brings a wealth of corrections and reentry experience to the organization. In addition to serving as a Major at SCI Graterford, Kerry was the Facility Supervisor for the DOC’s Wernersville Community Corrections Center, and ran that facility’s reentry programs. In his role as DOC Reentry Program Supervisor, Kerry directs the activities and staff of the agency’s DOC contracted reentry programs.