Columbus program connects children with 24-hour safe places, resources
BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY, Ind. – A 24-hour safe place for children – it’s a concept that Columbus, Indiana leaders say is an approach, unlike any other in the country. It’s an initiative to help kids, before it’s too late.
Foundation For Youth has been working on bringing this 24-hour Safe Place program to the area since 2015. They say it’s a necessary resource that many Indiana counties are looking into.
Yellow diamond shaped signs with the words “Safe Place” are starting to pop up all around the county.
“Our job is to keep the community safe,” said Anita Biehle, the Director of the Youth Service Center.
The signs look like road signs. However, they are not for drivers. They’re focused on getting the attention of children and teens.
“When a youth sees that yellow diamond, they know they can go in there and find an adult who can connect them to resources and help if they need it,” said Andrew Young, the Youth Development Director at Foundation For Youth.
The signs mean that the business or site is a place where children can go when they feel there’s nowhere left to turn.
“We’ve had kids come to the club that have spoken to our staff about maybe some abuse or neglect they’re experiencing or just a safe place to go, just by seeing the sign,” said Young.
Foundation For Youth is handing out cards at schools, the Boys and Girls Club and other spots around the county. That way, when a child feels they are not in a safe place, they can text SAFE to 69866.
“It could be something as minor as they get in an argument with their parents and they’re like, I’m going to run away from home. Well, go to a safe place,” said Biehle.
The goal is to reunite the child back with his or her family. More than 30 sites are already signed up to help, including McDonalds, the police department and the fire department. Showing kids, the community has their back.
“Part of this community, is going to be these youths. I’d rather them go to a safe place to get some help, than to be out on the street,” Biehle said.
The 24-hour safe place program goes into effect on January 1 for Bartholomew County.
For a map to show you the Safe Place locations near you, click here.