Youth In Crisis Will Soon Have a Safe Place To Turn To

By KBJR News 1

March 20, 2013 Updated Mar 20, 2013 at 6:55 PM CST

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Youth in greater Minnesota will soon have a new resource for resolving problematic and life–altering situations.

A new service in Duluth called Safe Place is set to open in just a few weeks and will assist young people who feel they have nowhere to turn.

Struggling with homelessness or another life threatening situation is difficult enough when being faced by an adult...but when youth are in crisis, it can seem insurmountable.

At a public launch, Lutheran Social Services and City of Duluth officials announced a new service called Safe Place that will open its doors on April 24th, aiming to provide help.

Duluth is the first city in the state to become a Safe Place destination.

"Through this national program, when a youth sees the sign for Safe Place they that it's a safe place they can go to more readily get access to services," Dawn Shykes, a Program Director from Lutheran Social Services, said.

Those services include immediate help and safety to young people, as well education about the dangers of running away, and being homeless.

Program members will also assist those who are struggling with sexual orientation issues that may be experiencing rejection by their families.

"There are issues going on within a household that unfortunately blow up and sometimes will ask their children to leave and that leaves children without a safe place to be," Shykes said.

Shykes says the out of the homeless youth population in the state of Minnesota, 40 percent of those are in the greater Duluth area.

That equates to more than 1,000 kids left without a home each night.
The program is offered in 41 states across the US and getting safe place in Minnesota was just a matter of paperwork.

If a youth needs assistance, they can depend on any location with a safe place sign like this one. With four locations opening in the next month, 25 more are slated to open in the next year.

"Any of the youth that goes to one of our safe place locations, and asks for help, that business will call us and we'll pick them up we'll pick them up within 30 minutes," Linnea Stephan, Lutheran Social Services, said.

The locations scheduled to become active next month are the LSS Renaissance House, the Duluth YMCA, Valley Youth Center, and any of the Duluth Transit Authority busses.

The Safe Place program is also technologically friendly.

Any youth in crisis is free to text the word "safe" along with their current location to 69866.

For more information on the Safe Place program, click here: http://nationalsafeplace.org

Justin Reis, NNC.
jreis@kbjr.com