Christian City celebrates Safe Place Program for Youth

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Local Safe Place Coordinators, Tam and Kelvin Finlay, respond 24/7 to youth in crisis who reach out through the Safe Place Program. The Finlays also work with community partners and school social workers to increase awareness of the Safe Place Program among metro Atlanta middle and high school students in Fulton, Douglas, Carroll, Fayette, Coweta, DeKalb and Cobb Counties. Photo/Larry Regier.
Local Safe Place Coordinators, Tam and Kelvin Finlay, respond 24/7 to youth in crisis who reach out through the Safe Place Program. The Finlays also work with community partners and school social workers to increase awareness of the Safe Place Program among metro Atlanta middle and high school students in Fulton, Douglas, Carroll, Fayette, Coweta, DeKalb and Cobb Counties. Photo/Larry Regier.

Safe Place, operated locally by Christian City, partners with businesses and community organizations to provide immediate safety and support for local youth in a large part of metro Atlanta, including Fulton, Douglas, Carroll, Fayette, Coweta, DeKalb and Cobb Counties.

Local Safe Place site locations include QuikTrip stores, YMCA of Metro Atlanta locations, and some fire stations. Other Safe Place agencies serve the remainder of metro Atlanta.

Program Executive Sarah Booth has been a member of the Christian City Children & Family Programs staff since 2014 when Christian City became a local licensed Safe Place agency.

“Before coming into foster care, I was an at-risk youth. The Safe Place Program would have really aided me in getting the help I needed,” said Booth. “Our Safe Place coordinators respond 24/7 to youth in crisis with a goal to help youth get to safety before they are harmed on the streets.”

Since its inception in 1983, Safe Place has helped more than 359,000 youth and currently serves more than 1,500 communities across the country. The program is managed by 140 youth agencies in 38 states and the District of Columbia.

During National Safe Place Week, the coordinators of Safe Place Runaway & Homeless Youth Program at Christian City, Tam and Kelvin Finlay, are visiting schools to increase awareness of Safe Place among school social workers and educators.

Teachers may access a free informational Q&A video to show in their classrooms or virtually to inform students in middle and high schools about the Safe Place Program. The video link and other resources for educators are located at www.christiancity.org/SPresources.

Christian City is a licensed Safe Place agency for runaway and homeless youth across a large part of metro Atlanta. It serves Fulton, Douglas, Carroll, Fayette, Coweta, DeKalb, and Cobb Counties through a partnership with QuikTrip stores, YMCA of Metro Atlanta locations, and some fire stations.

In addition to entering those Safe Place locations displaying the yellow and black Safe Place sign, teens can also text the word “safe” and their current address to 4HELP (44357) or call 770-964-3301 for immediate assistance.

The Christian City staff responds 24/7 to help youth ages 12 to 17 who are in crisis. Youth on the streets who have run away from home or have been forced from their home are in danger of being lured into sex trafficking and other harmful activities. The Safe Place Program exists to quickly get the youth to safety, assess their crisis situation, and get the help they need. For more information, visit www.christiancity.org/safeplace.

Christian City was established 56 years ago when the first cottage for abused and abandoned children opened on Valentine’s Day, 1965. Today, there are more than 1,000 residents, both children and older adults, living at Christian City, a nonprofit organization that depends on the generosity of donors for financial support.

The 500-acre campus in South Fulton County includes the Children’s Village Residential Program, Safe Place Runaway & Homeless Youth Program, Crossroads Foster Care & Adoption Program, and Thrive Graduate Transition Program, as well as active senior housing.

Through a partnership with PruittHealth, the Christian City campus also includes a skilled nursing center, assisted living center, memory care, home health and hospice care. For more information, visit www.christiancity.org or call 770-964-3301.

National Safe Place Network (NSPN) provides quality training, capacity building, and technical support to youth and family service organizations across the nation. NSPN operates nationally recognized programs, including Safe Place.

More than 20,000 businesses and community locations participate as Safe Place sites – such as restaurants, convenience stores, fire stations, public buses, and libraries. These locations display the Safe Place sign and connect youth in crisis with resources and supports. Safe Place also provides a national text-for-support program, TXT 4 HELP. Teens can text the word “SAFE” to 4HELP (44357) and access options to locate the nearest Safe Place and text one-on-one with a counselor. TXT 4 HELP is available 24/7/365. Learn more about NSPN and Safe Place at www.nspnetwork.org and www.nationalsafeplace.org.

March 21-27, 2021 is National Safe Place (NSP) Week. The nationally recognized week serves to raise awareness about the Safe Place program, a national program which brings together youth service agencies, businesses, volunteers, and other community partners to help youth in crisis.

“Unfortunately, young people face troubling issues in today’s world, such as abuse, neglect, bullying and serious family problems,” said Laurie Jackson, President and CEO of NSPN. “It’s up to all of us to offer solutions, places where youth can go to get help. National Safe Place Week is the perfect opportunity for communities across the country to assess and strengthen their safety net for youth.”

Safe Place consists of a national network of more than 22,000 partnering businesses and community locations, such as fast-food restaurants, convenience stores, fire stations, public buses, and libraries, which display the Safe Place sign in their windows. As youth enter a designated Safe Place and ask for help, trained staff members connect them to the appropriate youth shelter for assistance.