It’s not easy to grow up, and it’s harder for some than others. Every night in King County, more than 1,000 young people may find themselves without a safe place to go. Some are abandoned, some are abused; few know where to go to get help.
Now, assistance is just a bus away, thanks to a new partnership between King County, local service agencies and Safe Place, a national non-profit organization that builds community safety nets for young people in crisis.
“Safe Place expands the reach of our existing youth services by connecting with our network of buses and finding new ways to get help to youth in crisis,” says King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert, who helped coordinate the partnership. “Any teen who is scared and alone and confused should know at least one thing – the nearest Metro bus is a safe place to get help.
“Preventing young people from becoming homeless is a big step toward our efforts to solve homelessness and to keep at-risk kids safe,” she adds. Lambert represents Woodinville on the County Council.
When a young person in crisis needs help, all he or she has to do is approach any Metro bus driver and say, “I need a safe place.” The operator will then make a call that will trigger contact with a youth service provider, who will arrange to meet and transport the youth to safety. Sound Transit Express buses serving King County will also participate in the program.
“Metro is proud to be a partner in this effort to make our county a safer place to be for young people,” Metro Operations Manager Jim O’Rourke said. “Our operators are accustomed to serving as the community’s eyes and ears. Through this program, they can now additionally serve as a bridge in helping to get kids off the street and into the hands of a youth resource agency that can help.”
“More than anything, our children deserve to feel safe,” said Councilmember Lambert. “Keeping just one child out of trouble and out of harm’s way can make the difference for a lifetime of success.”