Hillsborough County Children’s Services recently hosted a Safe Place event for community partners and those interested in becoming a Safe Place.

Whether they’ve had a fight with their parents or are fleeing domestic abuse in their home, kids and teens without a place to go can visit a Safe Place location in Hillsborough County to get assistance.

National Safe Place Week in March helped to raise awareness about the vital program that provides kids, ages 10-17, who are in crisis access to immediate support services. With nearly 200 Safe Place locations throughout Hillsborough County, including fire stations and libraries, kids will see the recognizable yellow-and-black “Safe Place” sign and know they are in a safe place. If kids have access to a mobile phone, they can also text SAFE with their location to 4HELP and within seconds receive a message with the closest Safe Place site and the phone number to Children’s Services.  

The program has been managed by Hillsborough County Children’s Services for over 30 years. Staff at Safe Place locations are trained to call Children’s Services, which will send a qualified staff member to the location to talk with the youth in need. If necessary, they will provide transportation to the Children’s Services campus in Tampa so the child can receive professional support services.

“Safe Place provides a much-needed safety net for youth that are experiencing crisis at home, homelessness or who feel that running away is their only option. As the Safe Place agency, HC Children’s Services provides a safe environment for the youth, along with therapy, while providing wraparound services for the family to stabilize the home,” explained Safe Place coordinator Doris Gillette.

Hillsborough County Children’s Services recently hosted a Safe Place Awareness Event for community partners who make the program possible and provide information to organizations interested in becoming a Safe Place location. Community partners, including the sheriff’s office, attended the event, where they also learned more about how to help kids who find themselves in a situation where they would need a safe place.

“The benefit of having more Safe Place locations is that community involvement is key to helping keep our youth safe from the crisis they may be experiencing at home. Especially those businesses and restaurants that have 24-hour access,” said Gillette.

To become a Safe Place site in Hillsborough County, interested businesses should contact Gillette at Children’s Services to schedule an initial assessment.

Children’s Services continues to work to raise awareness about the Safe Place program so both kids and adults know about this vital safety net.

To learn more about the program and how to get involved, visit www.hcfl.gov/safeplace.

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