LA FERIA, Texas (ValleyCentral) — There are different resources for the youth of the Rio Grande Valley to get help when going through a difficult circumstance. One of those resources of help is known as a Safe Place which has continued to expand over the years.
Annette Gonzalez, the Supervisor, and the Senior Case Management, at The Children’s Center Inc. said a safe place is marked with a Safe Place sign.
She said those signs are vital to the youth community because they help signal that it is a place for them to go to when they are experiencing difficult circumstances.
According to Gonzalez some of those circumstances involve family struggles, abuse, neglect, bullying, and homelessness.
Gonzalez said safe places tend to be used by children who are age 17 and younger.
However, many do not know about the safe place locations that are located throughout the Rio Grande Valley.
To help spread the word on those 74 locations, she said Children’s Inc. is taking the stand to inform the community and local schools.
“We do a lot of community outreach and street outreach, we also integrate with the schools for presentations so they’re aware that the students when they come across our Safe Place logo they understand what safe place means,” she said.
Below are some of the local safe place locations in the valley:
- First Baptist Church 1200 Beech McAllen Texas 78574 (956) 686-7818
- Hands In Art Studio 707 N. Conway Ave Mission Texas 78572 (956) 342-4917
- The Wave Nutrition 602 W. Sam Houston Blvd. Suite C. Pharr Texas 78577 (956)739-9078
- Alton Police Dept. 509 S. Alton Blvd. Alton Texas 78573 (956) 432-0700
- Piology 1400 E. Expwy 83 #130 McAllen Texas 78501 (956) 655-2873
- First Baptist Church 208 S Main St, La Feria TX 78559
According to Gonzalez, once a youth goes to a Safe Place location, help from Children’s Inc. continues to be given to them.
Resources such as case management, supportive resources, and mentorship are given to both the youth and their families.
In cases where Children’s Inc. does not have the resources that are needed to help, Gonzalez said they help find another agency that will provide the proper assistance.
According to Gonzalez, locations that are considered to be a safe place tend to be mom-and-pop stores, congregations, fire departments, or police departments.
Gonzalez said the community’s contribution plays a huge role in helping the youth and encourages anyone who is interested in becoming a safe place to reach out for a policy/agreement discussion.
“The agreement states that when the youth walks into a safe place that the person will address the youth, we ask that they don’t proffer any questions to provide just a safe location away from maybe visitors because the youth is in crisis,” she said.
According to Gonzales, the reasoning behind their policy and agreement is due to the need of Children’s Inc. to properly evaluate the situation a youth is experiencing.
In addition to knowing what Safe Place locations are, Gonzalez also encourages the youth community in the RGV to be familiar with the 24-hour crisis hotline that number 1-844-763-8861.
For more information on safe place locations, the public is encouraged to reach out to Gonzalez at 956-357-6426.