The Texas Baptist Home For Children hosted a breakfast recently to promote a nationally recognized program called Safe Place, which gives at-risk and marginalized youth, such as victims of domestic abuse or runaways, a place to turn to during crisis.

“Project Safe Place provides children in danger with a link to immediate help,” said Josh Corrigan, Universal Child Abuse Prevention Specialist for the Texas Baptist Home for Children. “Safe Place sites can be identified by a large yellow and black Safe Place sign and these sites are available to any child who is in danger or feels unsafe,” Corrigan said, saying, “In partnership with the Ellis County businesses, schools, and public and private agencies, Waxahachie and other cities will be participating in the safe place program.”

Lyn Morris, Director of Family Connections Department for TBHC, explained that the program would benefit youth who find themselves in difficult situations including problems at home, school, trouble with peers, being locked out of the house, riding with an unsafe driver, or being in a dangerous situation on a date.

“When a child requests help, a Safe Place site employee will contact Family Connections who will respond promptly,” said Morris, saying, “Each child's service needs are assessed and they are connected with the appropriate help or agency, with the goal being to return the child home when appropriate.”

Morris stressed that youth have left home for many reasons such as to escape abuse or neglect, drug or alcohol problems of family members, being forced out of the house, and many youth feel they just don't belong. She said many times leaving home is not a choice they want to make, yet national agencies estimate that over one million young people run away from home each year.

“No matter what the reason, kids do have a safer alternative. They can go to any designated Safe Place site to get immediate help,” Said Morris, saying, “These young people deserve access to a Safe Place and a chance to think through their problems with the support of trained caring adults.”

Corrigan said Safe Place is the first step to help for any youth in crisis or at risk.

“This community collaboration program, operated by youth serving agencies make it possible for any youth to access help at locations including fast food restaurants, convenience stores, fire stations, libraries and city buses which display the Safe Place sign,” Corrigan said, noting, “Youth can easily find help at a Safe Place site.”

Local business owners or managers who would like to participate in being a safe place location, contact Lyn Morris at Family Connections at the Texas Baptist Home with business information and location.

“There are requirements to hold a safe place sign, said Morris, saying, “With these standards we can be sure that all our participants are equipped to be a safe place location. Ellis County Safe Place Kickoff is planned for March 2008.”

For more information about the safe place program contact Lyn Morris Program Director of Family Connections at 972-937-1321.