National Safe Place Week Celebrates Safe Place® Program for Youth
National Safe Place Network (NSPN) is pleased to announce March 21-27, 2021 as National Safe Place (NSP) Week. The nationally recognized week serves to raise awareness about the Safe Place program, a national program which brings together youth service agencies, businesses, volunteers, and other community partners to help youth in crisis.
“Unfortunately, young people face troubling issues in today’s world, such as abuse, neglect, bullying and serious family problems,” said Laurie Jackson, President and CEO of NSPN. “It’s up to all of us to offer solutions, places where youth can go to get help. National Safe Place Week is the perfect opportunity for communities across the country to assess and strengthen their safety net for youth.”
Safe Place consists of a national network of more than 22,000 partnering businesses and community locations, such as fast-food restaurants, convenience stores, fire stations, public buses, and libraries, which display the Safe Place sign in their windows. As youth enter a designated Safe Place and ask for help, trained staff members connect them to the appropriate youth shelter for assistance.
In addition to Safe Place sites, youth may also access immediate help via TXT 4 HELP, a text-for-support service for youth in crisis. Teens can text the word “safe” and their current location (address, city, state) to 4HELP (44357) to receive a message with the closest Safe Place location and the number for the local youth shelter. Users also have the option to text interactively with a counselor for more help.
Safe Place, operated locally by Christian City, partners with businesses and community organizations to provide immediate safety and support for local youth in a large part of metro Atlanta, including Fulton, Douglas, Carroll, Fayette, Coweta, DeKalb and Cobb Counties. Local Safe Place site locations include QuikTrip stores, YMCA of Metro Atlanta locations, and some fire stations. Other Safe Place agencies serve the remainder of metro Atlanta.
Program Executive, Sarah Booth, has been a member of the Christian City Children & Family Programs staff since 2014 when Christian City became a local licensed Safe Place agency. “Before coming into foster care, I was an at-risk youth. The Safe Place Program would have really aided me in getting the help I needed,” said Booth. “Our Safe Place coordinators respond 24/7 to youth in crisis with a goal to help youth get to safety before they are harmed on the streets.”
Since its inception in 1983, Safe Place has helped more than 359,000 youth and currently serves more than 1,500 communities across the country. The program is managed by 140 youth agencies in 38 states and the District of Columbia.
During National Safe Place Week, the coordinators of Safe Place Runaway & Homeless Youth Program at Christian City, Tam and Kelvin Finlay, are visiting schools to increase awareness of Safe Place among school social workers and educators. Teachers may access a free informational Q&A video to show in their classrooms or virtually to inform students in middle and high schools about the Safe Place Program. The video link and other resources for educators are located at www.christiancity.org/SPresources.