TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — There are 36 locations where teens can go to seek emergency shelter. The locations are called safe places and they are labeled outside of local businesses, including a number of Quiktrips in Southern Arizona.
Our Family Services is a nonprofit organization that provides emergency shelter for youth ages 12 to 17-years-old.
Manager Cindy McClain says, “we have three different programs. We have our safe place program, our runaway homeless and youth program, which sometimes utilizes the safe place program and we also are contracted with DCS who places kids here when they’ve had to be removed from their home and before they can find them a personal placement.”
McClain says when a child calls for emergency shelter at a safe place location, they then have 23 hours to work with the child to determine their needs. During this time, the parents of the child are notified that their child is safe.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT SAFE PLACES
- Teen walks in to Safe Place
- Our Family Services is called to pick up teen
- Teen is taken to shelter
- Food, bed, shower, clothing provided as needed
- Consultation and evaluation of situation takes place
- Within 23 hours, parents are called
- Child can stay up to 3 weeks depending on circumstances
“We are able to assess their needs, find out why they are here. Find out why they have left their home. Give them extra community support,” says McClain. Adding the 23-hour period is, “pretty crucial. We don’t have much time to figure out what that child needs.”
Parents actually have the option to sign their child up for a 21-day program at the shelter.
“Parents can sign their kids up to give them some space while they get their counseling so that when they return home after 21 days, they’re returning to a better environment then when they left.”
During their stay, they are given three meals and three snacks. They engage in a number of activities and projects to fit their needs. “It’s the highs and the lows, there’s really no middle ground here. But we also have fun every single day here.”
“We’re trying to get them ready for adulthood and sometimes that means were teaching them a lot because there’s a lot to catch up before they turn 18,” says McClain.
McClain says while each child could be at the shelter for numerous reasons, they still find a way to interact. “They’re all here at the same time and even though what brought them here is different, they’re experiencing the same thing.”
Our Family Services is mostly funded by private donations and are always accepting donations to keep the program running.
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