Pikes Peak Library District and Urban Peak Colorado Springs have launched a first-of-its-kind initiative in the state. Aimed at helping teen runaways and youth experiencing homelessness to find help sooner, the project makes libraries in the District part of the National Safe Place Network.
“Local libraries are already hot spots for young people who seek a safe place,” says Shawna Kemppainen, executive director of Urban Peak Colorado Springs. “When the Library approached us, we knew this collaboration could mean more runaway and homeless youth get help before falling into the crisis of street life.”
That help could include safe, temporary shelter, basic needs such as food or clothing, and potentially entering Urban Peak’s full range of services including counseling, healthcare, employment and housing services.
“Becoming sites for the National Safe Place Network was an easy choice for the Library. We already provide services and resources to help the residents of El Paso County and welcome all through our doors,” says Antonia Krupicka-Smith, Adult/Teen Services Manager at Library 21c. “Extending the reach of the crucial services provided by Urban Peak Colorado Springs to our youth is yet another way that we support the community that we are all a part of.”
How Safe Place Works:
- A young person enters the library and asks for help.
- The library staff finds a comfortable place for the youth to wait while calling Urban Peak’s Safe Place Line: (719) 339-0509.
- Urban Peak dispatches a Safe Place trained volunteer to the library within 30 minutes. The volunteer will speak with the youth and then provide transportation to Urban Peak’s facility.
- Once at Urban Peak, counselors meet with the youth and provide support to see what’s needed. That could mean shelter, or getting the teen connected to next safe steps.
Information about Safe Place will go out to local middle schools and high schools and other youth-serving organizations.