Advocates for Children Marks National Safe Place Week with Focus on Accessibility, Education and Community Support
People pass the yellow and black Safe Place signs all the time, some never knowing significance that the denotation might mean. The signs indicate that the employees at that business or staff at that facility are trained and ready to help a young person in crisis. March 19-25 marks week of awareness for Safe Place, a national youth outreach and prevention program for young people in need of immediate help and safety.
As one of five Safe Place affiliated organizations in Georgia, Advocates for Children oversees the efforts more than 90 Safe Place locations in Northwest Georgia. Coordinating that program is Adairsville resident Tracy Arp, who among her duties serves as direct care staff for residents at Advocate’s Flowering Branch Children’s Shelter in Cartersville. With more than 10 years of experience with community support for young people, Arp’s expanded role will include coordination of these sites and the outreach to the community.
“No child at risk or in crisis should be without resources,” said Arp. “It’s important that we have a network of support for youth who are in danger, have run away from home, or feel that it is unsafe to live where they were living. Our Safe Place partners help us to reach those individuals who might not have any other place to turn if it was not for this program.”
Safe Place designates businesses and organizations as Safe Place locations, making help readily available to youth in communities across the country. Locations include libraries, fire stations, various businesses, some churches, schools, and social service facilities.
As a community-based program, Safe Place is focused on immediate interventions to address issues at the earliest possible stage of a crisis. This would include assisting the young person with shelter, food and other basic needs. Another component that Arp stresses is the education and outreach portion.
“We have to get the information out there,” she explained. “Youth need to know that help is available, and the community need to understand the importance of this program. So outreach is critical to making sure we are providing the best care and support for young people in crisis. We work with local schools, community organizations and anywhere we can get the message out to people.”
All of Advocates for Children’s locations in Bartow County serve as a Safe Place, as do local fire stations, libraries and many schools throughout the area. Most QuikTrip locations, including those in Cherokee, Cobb, North Fulton, Paulding and Pickens counties, are also designated Safe Place providers. Additionally, many other businesses, restaurants, and service locations are also listed as resources. Each location with a sign designating it must keep updated information on training status, site visits, and visibility of signage. There is always a need for more sites, according to Arp, especially in areas of greatest need.
Advocates for Children utilizes the Safe Place program to extend its reach to more youth, and it gives youth-friendly locations the opportunity to share in creating a community where youth have easy access to safety when they need it. In addition to seeking out facilities that are displaying the yellow and black sign, Safe Place has implemented a national network that allows a young person to call 1-800-422-TEEN or text “SAFE” and his or her current location to 69866 for the closest Safe Place site information.