Valpo offers Safe Place for youths to seek help
By Phil Wieland March 22, 2012
VALPARAISO | Youths
looking for a safe place to seek help soon will have dozens of locations in the
city, including city buildings and buses.
Mayor Jon Costas
read a proclamation at Thursday's meeting of the city's Board of Public Works
and Safety announcing the city's joining the national Safe Place program by
setting up locations where youths can get immediate help in a crisis ranging
from avoiding riding with an unsafe driver to being a victim of violence.
"As a city, we
certainly want to do all we can to provide safety for children," Costas said.
"By serving as Safe Place sites, we have an opportunity to connect kids with
Safe Place sites
will be designated by a diamond-shaped yellow and black sign in the window. The
city has 14 businesses currently designated in addition to city hall, the three
fire stations and the police department. Porter County Sheriff's Department cars
and city police cars also will have them as well as the V-Line buses.
When a young person
enters one of the sites requesting help, employees on site will provide comfort
until a trained Safe Place representative arrives from the Crisis Center Inc. to
help find a solution. The employees will be trained to handle the situation
until the Crisis Center agent arrives.
Tyler Kent, the
city's transit director and interim planning director, said youths getting on a
city bus seeking help will be taken to one of the city facilities to meet with a
executive director of the Crisis Center, told the board the program was created
in 1997 and is "an active way to reach kids who don't know what to do."
Coordinator Nikki Wielgos said, "Every situation is unique, especially for teens
who feel there's not a lot of people who care about them."
Among the Safe
Place locations in Porter County youths can go for cases like runaways, family
crises, homelessness, abuse or other problems are the Boys and Girls Clubs, the
United Way, Centier Bank locations and the sheriff's department. The Crisis
Center is a United Way agency.