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Center for Youth reviews impact of "Safe Place" program

Updated: 03/21/2014 5:51 PM
Created: 03/21/2014 4:41 AM WHEC.com
By: Lia Lando

There's a safe place for children to turn to when they find themselves caught in the middle of a crisis. There are hundreds of locations throughout the Rochester area and experts say they’ve seen a growing need for “safe places” in the community. Officials say the number of runaways or troubled teens has significantly increased over the years.

A program called “Safe Place” in Rochester has been helping kids in crisis.

Valerie Douglas, Center For Youth, said, "A young person was on the bus and had been kicked out by their family and was just riding the bus and didn't know where to go and didn't know what to do."

Valerie Douglas from the Center for Youth says RTS buses in Monroe County are designated “safe places” for kids to go when they need help. They tell the bus driver and that driver contacts the Center for Youth. 

Elaine Spaull, Center for Youth Director, said, “We find our kids often in need of just someone good to talk to, safe to talk to. We do have a number of kids who end up in our homeless shelters.”

Executive Director Elaine Spaull says “Safe Place” is a prevention and intervention program with nearly 300 designated locations. They are clearly marketed and include TOPS Supermarkets, recreation centers, YMCA’s, libraries and even some restaurants.

Spaull said, “Many of our young people really are raising themselves. They are trying to figure out things. The world is not always easy for kids. Often families fall apart. Sometimes kids find themselves bullied in school. They find themselves hanging with the wrong crowd."

If they go to a “safe place”, Spaull says someone will listen to their problems and they won’t be judged.

Spaull said, “A “safe place” call is a promise that you won’t get in trouble."

Douglas said, “Our counselors will make the call. We’ll say can we call your parents? Let us talk to them and tell them why you are coming home at midnight instead of 10 and that really can help smooth over a potentially very explosive situation with a family.”

Elaine Spaull says even though there are already about 300 designated safe places, they are looking for more. She also points out that this program is not just for kids in the city. She says it helps youth throughout Monroe County.

For more information on “Safe Place”, click here.





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