'Safe Place' sites offer help and support
The saying is that “it takes a village” and truly it does take a village to raise children in our community today.
McGruff houses are a good example of an entire village being involved in raising their children. Kids knew that neighborhood homes posted with the McGruff sign were places were they could go if they needed help. However, the McGruff program is now gone.
Today, a new nationwide initiative known as Safe Place helps provide support for youth in crisis situations. Safe Place is a youth outreach program which originated in Louisville, Ky., and has since become a nationally known non-profit organization that involves the whole community in providing safe havens and resources for youth in crisis.
Businesses and community buildings are designated as “Safe Place” sites and youth can walk into those places where they see the yellow and black signs and get immediate help. All Safe Places in Centre County are connected to the local teen shelter in State College, the Youth Service Bureau’s Burrowes Street Youth Haven at 330 South Burrowes St.
The shelter provides immediate counseling, support and resources needed for the youth and help develop a plan that addresses the issues that the family and youth may be having at that time. Any place that displays the Safe Place logo has employees who are trained and prepared to assist youth who walk in and ask for help.
Youth are more likely seek help in places that are familiar and recognizable. Youth need to know that they are valued, supported and advocated for within the community. With Safe Place, our community has a chance to take an active role in the lives of our youth by providing safe, supportive assistance for youth who may be in dangerous situations. Youth experience difficult situations every day, including problems at home, at school or with peers. An estimated 2.8 million youth run away each year, some feeling that they do not belong, while others are told to leave.
In some cases, there is abuse or neglect. Despite the reason a youth leaves, leaving their homes is not an option most youth would pick and these youth deserve a chance to get help for their problems with the support of caring adults. All youth deserve a Safe Place. Consider becoming a Safe Place site today. Currently there are 21 Safe Place locations here in Centre County. If you are interested in becoming a Safe Place, please call the local teen shelter at (814) 234-0803 and ask for Vanessa.
Vanessa Barroner is the Director of Burrowes Street Youth Haven, which is part of the Centre County Youth Service Bureau.