CARTERSVILLE, Ga.- March 14, 2017: People pass the yellow and black Safe Place signs all the time, some never knowing their significance. The signs indicate that the staff at that facility are trained and ready to help a young person in crisis. March 19-25 marks a week of awareness for the National Safe Place Network, a youth outreach and prevention program for young people in need of immediate help and safety.
As one of five Safe Place affiliated organizations in Georgia, Advocates for Children oversees the efforts more than 90 Safe Place locations in Northwest Georgia. Coordinating that program is Adairsville resident Tracy Arp, who among her roles, serves as direct care staff for residents at Advocates’ Flowering Branch Children’s Shelter in Cartersville. With more than 10 years of experience with community support for young people, Arp’s expanded responsibilities will include coordination of these sites and outreach to the community.
“No child at risk or in crisis should be without resources,” said Arp, who is originally from Calhoun. “It’s important that we have a network of support for youth who are in danger, have run away from home, or feel that it is unsafe to stay where they were living. Our Safe Place partners help us to reach those individuals who might not have any other place to turn.”
The National Safe Place Network designates businesses and organizations as Safe Place locations, making help readily available to youth in communities across the country. Locations include libraries, fire stations, various businesses, some churches, schools, and social service facilities.
Youth who are struggling with abuse, neglect, homelessness, dangerous dating situations, drug abuse and other challenges can find immediate help and support through the Safe Place network. These challenges may lead young people to make difficult, and sometimes dangerous, decisions in an effort to escape what it is they are going through. Sometimes, youth feel they don’t belong, and leaving home is often not a choice they want to make. Youth may visit any designated Safe Place site location and receive immediate help.
“Outreach is a key to the success of the program,” she explained. “Youth need to know that help is available, and the community needs to understand the importance of this program. We work with local schools, community organizations and anywhere we can get the message out to people.”