March 15-21 marks the annual celebration of National Safe Place Week!
The Safe Place program originated the YMCA of Louisville, Kentucky and has grown to include programs nationwide. The principle of the program is simple: When Kids Are In Trouble, We Are Here To Help.
Participating businesses receive training for their employees to support youth in crisis who arrive at their location while they notify local officials and youth workers of the presence of a youth seeking help. Once that notification is made, a trained youth worker is dispatched to the location and the youth is engaged in conversation to determine the nature of their problem.
When the problems are simple, the youth benefits from a kind ear and a warm reception from the trained Safe Place agency; but when the issues are more complex, the youth is transported to the nearest Safe House safe site. At the Safe House, there are highly trained and multi-disciplinary professionals who speak with the youth and make professional services available to the youth and their family. During the counseling and intervention process, the youth has the choice to remain in the Safe House for 30 days without fear of returning to an unsafe environment – all while continuing to attend their home school, receiving developmentally appropriate programming, and full food and nutrition services!
The focus of the site is the safety of the child and the preservation of the family. Many sites are linked to a wealth of services that can support families-in-crisis with counseling, financial social work, and even housing and job assistance. The focus is on crisis intervention, but the goal is to get the child into the most stable and loving environment possible!
So, during National Safe Place Week, thank a local business that has shown they care about the youth and families in their community – when you see the yellow and black sign, tell the owners and employees ‘Thank You” for standing up for our children!
If you are a youth in trouble or need, you can take advantage of the Safe Place finder on your cell-phone 24 hours/day. You can text the word “safe” and your current location (city, state, zip) to 69866. You will receive a message with the closest Safe Place location and contact number for the local youth shelter. You will also have the opportunity to text interactively with a mental health professional for more help. It’s quick, safe, and confidential.