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More Safe Places for Kids in Duluth

Posted at: 03/20/2013 6:33 PM
Updated at: 03/20/2013 6:44 PM
By: Travis Dill
tdill@wdio.com

Safe Place, a new social program for youth in crisis launched in Duluth on Wednesday. Social workers said it will give kids more places to turn for help.

Bright yellow signs will start showing up on city buses and in local businesses. They are symbols of hope to youth facing family issues or homelessness according Dawn Shaykes.

“We hope that when they see a Safe Place location they'll know there's somebody who's there to help them so they don't have to figure things out on their own,” Shaykes said.

She's the program director for Lutheran Social Service in Duluth, and she said the kids are alone and facing tough decisions.

“Without access to resources sometimes they will fall back onto risky behaviors,” Shaykes said.

The program was designed to get kids help, and fast.

Youth can walk in anywhere they see the signs and be talking to Safe Place staff or volunteers within 30 minutes. Those trained adults will then help the kids find the services they need.

“A lot of times that may involve family reunification, sometimes it may be short term shelter, sometimes it may be access to some counseling services,” Shaykes said.

Federal grants made the program possible in Duluth, but partnerships with the Duluth Transit Authority and Chamber of Commerce help the program cast a wide safety net.

The Safe Places will help youth in Duluth, and officials said it will strengthen the community.

The program is expected to continue indefinitely according to Lutheran Social Service leaders, and a text hotline launching soon will give kids another way to seek help.

The Bethany Crisis Center is looking for volunteers to help out with the program.