March 18-24, 2018 is National Safe Place Week. The nationally recognized week serves to raise awareness about the Safe Place program, a national program which brings together businesses and volunteers 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 / CEO for 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.”

It is estimated that more than one million youth run away from home each year due to abuse, neglect, family conflicts and other issues. The Safe Place program is an option for young people who feel they have nowhere to turn.

Safe Place consists of a national network of more than 21,000 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 Youth Emergency Service, a program of Youth Service, Inc. partners with businesses and community organizations such as the YMCA at Colombia North and ShopRite grocery stores to provide immediate safety and support for local youth. There are over 40 Safe Place site locations in Philadelphia.

“The Safe Place program at Youth Emergency Service, a program of Youth Service, Inc. has been providing access to immediate help and supportive resources for all young people in crisis since 2007. In 2017 alone, we were able to help over 60 youth in crisis in Philadelphia,” said Vanessa Ingram, Community Outreach Worker at Youth Service, Inc.

“Youth may experience difficult problems during their young lives. These may lead young people to make difficult decisions in an effort to escape what they are going through. Providing Safe Place as a resource for these young people gives them a safety net and support they need,” said Shaneara Johnson, supervisor for Runaway and Homeless Youth Program at Youth Services, Inc.

This year marks the 35th anniversary of Safe Place as collaborative community initiative working to strengthen the safety net for youth. Since its inception in 1983, Safe Place has helped more than 359,000 youth and currently serves more than 1,400 communities across the country. The program is managed by 136 youth agencies in 37 states and the District of Columbia.