Children and teens who are facing immediate crisis often think they have nowhere or no one to turn to. The truth is, that is not the case. Children and teens in crisis can utilize Safe Place, with which students and teens can receive immediate help through a single text message.
Safe Place is a national initiative locally managed by Hillsborough County Children’s Services that provides access to help and supportive resources for youth in need.
It does not matter what the situation is that the child or teen is facing. Whether they have had a fight with their parents or are fleeing domestic abuse in the home, children under the age of 18 can visit any of the dozens of Safe Place locations in Hillsborough County — most of which are open 24/7 — to get assistance.
Hillsborough County offers nearly 200 Safe Place locations for children in need. These come in many forms, from fire stations to libraries, and even many McDonald’s locations. At each Safe Place location, there are staff trained to help, and each one displays the recognizable yellow-and-black “Safe Place” sign to provide a visual cue for kids to know they are in a safe place.
Locally, the Safe Place locations include the Brandon Recreation Center, Bloomingdale Regional Public Library, McDonald’s on Bloomingdale Avenue and Boys & Girls Club Dover Unit.
Children and teens in crisis can text ‘SAFE’ with their current location to 4HELP (44357) and, within seconds, receive a message with the closest Safe Place site and the phone number to Children’s Services. The employee at the Safe Place location will call Hillsborough County Children’s Services and, within 30-60 minutes, a qualified Safe Place volunteer or staff member will arrive to talk to the youth, who, if necessary, will provide transportation to the Children’s Services campus in Tampa. Once at the campus, the counselors will meet with the youth and their family to make sure they receive the help and professional services they need.
For more information about Safe Place in Hillsborough County, including how your organization can become a Safe Place location, visit www.hcflgov.net/children.