Saint Louis, MO

Safe Place program's role in helping save children and teenagers in need

Steve Chao

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SAINT LOUIS, MO — Project Safe Place is a national crisis prevention program for children and teens provided by Youth in Need—the regional provider of Safe Place services for eastern Missouri.

Whenever a young person needs help, he or she can go to any business with the yellow and black Safe Place sign. Sites include QuikTrips, Walgreens, Gateway Region YMCAs, St. Charles City-County Libraries and most Fire Departments, as well as all Metro buses and trains in Missouri.

People on site are all trained to call a designated helpline, then a Safe Place caseworker will immediately be sent to help the child or teen in need, assess their situation and provide assistance to the young person. Project Safe Place is a great way for children and teens to get immediate help when needed, and for them to learn to take initiative when the situation becomes dangerous.

Why would children and teens need a Safe Place? They would need a it when they are in a runaway, lost, in danger, abused, locked out of the house, kidnapped, having trouble at home or school, avoiding a bully, on an unsafe date or with a drunk driver.

The program is free for any child or teen who needs help or is in a dangerous situation. What they need to do is to enter any business with the Safe Place sign and let the employees know if he or she needs Safe Place help. Then, they wait for the Safe Place worker to come and help their needs with the situation.

New businesses can also apply to become a safe place site for children and teens in the area. But they must undertake a number of commitments—such as to choose someone who is at least 21 years old to be in charge of the Safe Place program, to inform the Youth in Need when a young person seeks Safe Place assistant and to provide a safe environment for them until Safe Place staff respond.

The business also needs to display the Safe Place sign(s) or decal(s) in a highly visible area, as well as schedule and attend a site training with the Safe Place Coordinator. Furthermore, they need to inform any new employees about the Safe Place program, including appropriate procedures when a child or teen seeks Safe Place assistance.

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