Safe Place program gives kids a home and hope


Two years ago, Amanda Jordan walked away from her foster home and was placed in a respite home only to find herself in another bad situation.

So she went to a QuikTrip store, where a police officer picked her up and took her to Youth Services of Tulsa.

The organization’s Safe Place program is a collaborative effort to provide 24-hour easy access to young people in dangerous, threatening or vulnerable situations.

“Having a Safe Place is like going home but not your real home,” Jordan said.

“You know nothing is going to happen to you and you know you’re going to be safe.”

There are now 108 Safe Place sites in the Tulsa area, including all area QuikTrip stores and fire stations, and about 100 volunteers are on call to pick up youths from Safe Place locations and take them to the shelter.

All EMSA ambulances and Tulsa Transit buses also are Safe Place sites and will transport youths to the shelter, as well.

Last year, 237 youths ages 12 to 18 were picked up at Safe Place sites.

Jordan learned about Safe Place as a young teenager in foster care when she was temporarily placed in Youth Services of Tulsa’s shelter by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.

“You can feel it when you walk in,” she said. “They welcome you with open arms. They really do care about you.”

Jim Walker, executive director of Youth Services of Tulsa, said the agency doesn’t hide kids from their parents when they are transported to its shelter through the Safe Place program.

“Our goal is to reunify families,” he said. “We immediately call DHS or their parents and talk to them about it. If the parents are willing, we set up a counseling session.

“Sometimes the young person will stay with us for several days as a cooling off period,” Walker said.

Youth Services of Tulsa implemented its Safe Place program in 1991.

Last year, 6,804 middle and high school students learned about the program through presentations at their schools.

“Many kids who come in have kept their cards they got in middle school,” Walker said.

“Some kids live on the fringe, and we help them set up a safety plan.”

Jordan has aged out of foster care and has a job in radio broadcasting and her own apartment.

But she doesn’t believe that would be the case if it hadn’t been for the Safe Place program.

“I’d probably be on the streets,” she said. “If I wouldn’t have come here, I would have run away. I wouldn’t have a job or be independent.”

For more information, call Youth Services of Tulsa at 582-0061 or go online to tulsaworld.com/yst


Be a volunteer

The next Safe Place volunteer training session is from 10 a.m. to 2p.m. Saturday at Youth Services of Tulsa, 311 S. Madison Ave.

Contact Brittany Cooper at bcooper@yst.org or 918-382-4479 to sign up.

Original Print Headline: Shelter From The Storm


Mike Averill 918-581-8489

mike.averill@tulsaworld.com

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