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National Safe Place Week celebrates success of youth program in King County
Young people in crisis are increasingly turning to Safe Place in King County, a network of youth service agencies and community sites that is are celebrating its success during National Safe Place Week March 17-23.
King County Safe Place is part of a national network of more than 20,000 partnering businesses and community locations that display the yellow diamond Safe Place sign. As youth enter the designated Safe Places and ask for help, trained staff members connect them to the appropriate youth shelter for assistance.
Safe Place was launched in King County in August 2011 as a collaboration of three agencies:
• Auburn Youth Resources in South King County
• Friends of Youth in north and east King County
• YouthCare in Seattle.
Since then, more than 90 young people have accessed services through Safe Place partners and agencies. Just since October, trained staff from the three youth services agencies have responded to 28 individual requests for help through the Safe Place program. Nearly half of the youth went to emergency shelters, and others were reunited with families or were referred to facilities such as hospitals. The 28 youth represented an equal number of girls and boys, and their average age was 15.
As awareness of the program and the number of Safe Place sites have grown, requests for help are increasing, said Friends of Youth CEO Terry Pottmeyer.
"It is encouraging that young people in crisis are increasingly turning to service agencies for help, instead of trying to survive alone on the streets where they are vulnerable to predators," Pottmeyer said. "The Safe Place collaboration has proven remarkably successful at finding alternatives for youth with few options, and the King County program now is one of the largest Safe Place networks in the country."
"We are fortunate to have capacity to shelter South County youth referred to us through Safe Place," said Jim Blanchard, Executive Director of Auburn Youth Resources. "Our countywide partnership allows youth to get connected to help in their own community, and that often means returning home or finding refuge with another family member. Although youth seldom stay in shelter more than a few days, our shelter is consistently nearly full, and long-term funding is needed to keep it operating."
About the partner agencies
Auburn Youth Resources was established in 1973 by a group of concerned parents, educators, and governmental leaders to address the growing problem of drug abuse among South King County youth. Since then, AYR has grown into a regional provider of mental health, homeless youth outreach, shelter, and housing, as well as substance abuse services, serving children, youth, and families of King and Pierce Counties. For more information, please visit www.ayr4kids.org.
Founded in 1951, Friends of Youth delivers a comprehensive range of therapeutic services for youth and young adults encompassing 20 program sites to provide safe places to live and emotional support for youth in challenging circumstances. Serving youth ages 12-24, Friends of Youth's Homeless Services stretch from Snohomish County south to Renton and east to Duvall, Snoqualmie and other east King County cities. For more information, please visit www.friendsofyouth.org.
Since 1974, YouthCare has been a leader in providing effective services to homeless youth in Seattle/King County. From a three-bed shelter, our programs have expanded to include a continuum of services including outreach, basic needs, case management, emergency shelter, transitional housing, education, and employment training programs serving young people ages 12-24. For more information, please visit www.youthcare.org.