Youth Service Bureau’s new program gives kids safe places to go

 

Black and yellow diamond-shaped signs will be displayed on local businesses and organizations around town in the very near future. On March 29, 2021, La Porte County Youth Service Bureau will launch Safe Place, an outreach and prevention program for youths in need of immediate help and safety.

When teens find themselves in crisis or need a place to stay, they should know how and where to get help. Young people deserve safety and shelter, and many youths feel they don’t have either. Thanks to Safe Place, immediate help is never too far away.

Safe Place provides access to immediate help and supportive resources for youth in need. As a community initiative, the program designates schools, fire stations, libraries and other youth-friendly organizations as Safe Place locations, which display the yellow and black signs.

Safe Place locations extend the doors of the local youth service agency or shelter to support teens in crisis situations, creating a safety net for youths.

“The Youth Service Bureau of La Porte County is very excited to bring this program to La Porte County and fill in the gap that existed in northwest Indiana.  With our addition of Safe Place here, the program now stretches from Lake County all the way to St. Joseph County. Safe Place offers youths in crisis a place to go when they feel they are out of options, particularly if they are considering running away from home,” said Steve Bernth, YSB executive director.  “We are pleased to be able to offer this program in cooperation with La Porte County’s JDAI (Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative) Program to offer an alternative to running away that also begins to address the underlying issues in the home that are causing the conflict,” Bernth added.

La Porte County’s Safe Place initiative is part of a national network of Safe Place programs in 38 states and the District of Columbia. Over 22,000 community businesses and organizations nationwide display the yellow Safe Place signs, making help readily available for youth. Safe Place locations include libraries, YMCAs, fire stations, public buses and social service facilities.

Currently in La Porte, Safe Place locations include La Porte fire stations and all branches of the La Porte County Public Library. In Michigan City, Safe Place locations include Michigan City fire stations. As the program continues to grow, YSB will be partnering with more organizations and business to create sites all throughout La Porte County.  

More than 1.5 million youths 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. Since its inception in 1983, Safe Place has helped more than 380,000 youth nationally and currently serves more than 1,500 communities across the country.

National Safe Place Network also operates TXT 4 HELP, a 24/7 text-for-support service for youth in crisis.  Teens can text the word “safe” and their current location to 4HELP (44357) and 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 mental health professional for more help.

About YSB of La Porte County

The Youth Service Bureau sponsors several other programs such as School Buddies, which is one-on-one mentoring that takes place in the schools in La Porte County. Kids on the Block is a program that educates all of La Porte County second graders about the cycle of child abuse. This prevention puppet-show presentation is performed in elementary schools each year. Teen Court is a program that diverts first-time juvenile offenders from the traditional juvenile justice system. Teen Court youth volunteers serve as attorneys, bailiffs, and jurors to constructively sentence these offenders and hold them accountable to the community for their behavior.

For more information on YSB, visit www.youthservicebureau.com.

For more information on the National Safe Place Network, visit www.nationalsafeplace.org.

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