The South Mississippi Children’s Center (SMCC), part of Canopy Children’s Solutions, hosted a special proclamation ceremony in honor of National Safe Place Week. The event, working in conjunction with the mayor’s office and Hattiesburg Fire Department (HFD), took place Thursday, March 22, 2018, at HFD Station No. 1.
The ceremony included an official proclamation and remarks from the Hattiesburg mayor, the Honorable Toby Barker, and Canopy South Central Regional Director Tammy Miller in honor of National Safe Place Week. SMCC also recognized Safe Place sites who were in attendance with a certificate of appreciation for their partnership in the program, including HFD, Hattiesburg Police Department and the city library, among others.
Safe Place is a national youth outreach and prevention program for young people under the age of 18, and up to 21 years of age in some communities, in need of immediate help and safety. As a collaborative community prevention initiative, Safe Place designates businesses and organizations as Safe Place sites, making help readily available to youth in communities across the country.SMCC is the Safe Place agency in south Mississippi, offering safety and shelter to youth in crisis in Forrest, Lamar, Covington, Jones, Stone and other surrounding counties and states. SMCC has 43 designated Safe Place sites throughout the region including local restaurants, libraries, daycare centers, youth organizations, and police and fire departments, where youth can go for immediate help and get connected with SMCC. These sites are designated by the black and yellow Safe Place sign.
“Youth who come to SMCC through Safe Place can stay at the shelter up to 21 days at no cost to the parent or guardian,” said Teri Gay, Case Manager for SMCC. “We ensure that basic needs are met for every child that enters the shelter as well as services that include individual and group counseling, referral, support, case management, educational services, recreational activities, medical (physical, dental, and vision exams), and other services as needed. We work on a safety plan and long-term plan to ensure youth return to a safe environment when they leave the shelter.”
In addition to the proclamation ceremony, Canopy staff across the state wore the signature colors black and yellow to show support of Canopy’s Safe Place programs.
National Safe Place Week is designated for March 18-24, 2018. This week marks the 35th anniversary of the founding of Safe Place in Lexington, Kentucky in 1983. Since that time, Safe Place has developed partnerships with 138 Safe Place agencies in 37 states nationwide with more than 21,000 partnering sites within local communities. Mississippi has three Licensed Safe Place Agency programs, including SMCC in Hattiesburg, and the Warren County Children’s Shelter, also part of Canopy Children’s Solutions, located in Vicksburg.
For more information Safe Place, please visit nationalsafeplace.org.