The new year is only a few weeks old, and Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth is already checking off goals: expanding the number of Safe Place sites for homeless, abused, neglected, abandoned and other children and teens in need of immediate help and safety, and adding “youth-serving” partners for the first time to the crisis intervention program.
Libraries operated by Henderson Libraries and Las Vegas-Clark County Library District recently became designated Safe Place sites for thousands of vulnerable youth throughout Clark County.
The new partnership adds 25 Las Vegas-Clark County Library District and three Henderson Libraries locations with specially trained staff to assist youth in crisis. Locations also now display the universally recognized yellow and black diamond Safe Place sign at their entrances alerting youth in crisis they can seek help.
The libraries are also Southern Nevada’s first Safe Place partner sites with a youth-specific component in their operations and complement the mobile crisis intervention program’s existing convenience store, fire station and bus transportation partners. These are in addition to the NPHY Drop-In Center near UNLV.
“Libraries are excellent additions to the Safe Place program because they are already a place where youth spend time and feel safe. Therefore, youth experiencing at-risk situations will feel at ease accessing Safe Place services at the libraries,” said Arash Ghafoori, NPHY executive director. “We are thrilled to have the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District and Henderson Libraries as partners. It’s always been our desire to expand our local Safe Place program, and adding these new sites not only expands the number of Safe Place locations in the valley but also introduces Safe Place locations which are already youth-serving along with staff who specialize in interacting and working with youth.”
The Safe Place expansion and new libraries partnership is a response to the recently unveiled Southern Nevada Plan to End Youth Homelessness. NPHY plays a leading role in the collaborative community effort to drive the plan.
“This partnership with NPHY is important to Henderson Libraries because it provides even more access to allow us to help youth in need. Libraries are already a place where teens spend significant amounts of time and feel comfortable asking for help. To be able to have a formal partner, and be recognized as a Safe Place, elevates our ability to connect teens with the resources they need, when they need them most. We are looking forward to being part of the team working toward ending youth homelessness in Southern Nevada,” said Marcie Smedley, Henderson Libraries executive director.
Dr. Ronald R. Heezen, Las Vegas-Clark County Library District executive director agrees. “Libraries provide an empowering, identity-building space to help young people thrive,” he said. “This is why it is part of our mission to help vulnerable youth. Over the years, many of our staff have built trusting relationships with at-risk young people who come into our branches. Now, because of our new connection with Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth, staff in all 25 of our branches, located in both urban and rural communities across Clark County, have received formalized training on how to help these children access the services that they need.”
Safe Place is a national outreach, education, and referral program that provides easily accessible crisis intervention services to homeless, abused, neglected, abandoned, and other children and teens in need of immediate help and safety. Qualified youth-serving organizations partner with local businesses and government agencies to serve as Safe Place sites, receive specialized training, and display Safe Place signage.
Under the license of the National Safe Place Network, NPHY has operated the Safe Place program in Southern Nevada since 2002, providing safety to hundreds of youth over the years. It is the only youth-focused mobile crisis intervention program in the region, providing around-the-clock services and support to vulnerable youth in need. Safe Place provides a critical safety net for all children, removing them from dangerous situations and connecting them to a wide range of further services, such as shelter, housing, education, employment assistance, child welfare, and other services offered by NPHY or through its extensive partner and referral network.
Through NPHY’s partnerships with local businesses and government agencies, youth in Southern Nevada can access a Safe Place site by walking into one of the hundreds of designated locations, hopping on a bus for a free ride to a Safe Place site, or by calling the toll-free crisis hotline at 1-866-U-ARE-SAFE (1-866-827-3723), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Upon seeking help, youth are immediately connected to a crisis responder who either provides referral information or instructions on getting to the nearest Safe Place location for in-person assistance. Upon arrival to a Safe Place site, the youth is moved to a secure location. Within 30 minutes, a trained NPHY crisis responder meets the youth, assesses the situation using a trauma-informed approach, and, depending on unique needs and circumstances, transports the youth to an appropriate location – NPHY Drop-In Center, NPHY emergency shelters or a partner agency site – for further services or sometimes back home.
“The Safe Place program provides an invaluable resource not only for homeless youth, but also for youth in other crisis situations, from being locked out of the house, riding with an unsafe driver or finding themselves in a dangerous situation, to running away from abuse at home or being kicked out,” said Ghafoori.
Currently, more than 100 Terrible Herbst convenience stores and 21 City of Las Vegas Fire Stations serve as Safe Place sites in this region, in addition to NPHY’s own Drop-In Center. NPHY also partners with the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada to provide youth in crisis with free bus transportation to the nearest Safe Place location, offering mobile Safe Place access on nearly 400 buses operating on over 35 routes throughout Southern Nevada.
For more information about Safe Place or NPHY, visit www.nphy.com.
About Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth
NPHY is the most comprehensive service provider for the thousands of homeless youth in Southern Nevada, serving hundreds of youth through core programs and touching the lives of thousands more through outreach each year. NPHY’s programs stabilize homeless teens’ lives, meeting their immediate needs and providing a safe, supportive environment and a path to self- sufficiency. Through work with homeless youth, NPHY creates productive, healthy adults who contribute to society. Strengthening and complementing the high-quality direct services for homeless youth, NPHY is dedicated to advocating for the Las Vegas Valley’s homeless youth population and serves as a leader in systems-level efforts to eliminate homelessness among Nevada’s youth. For more information or to support our life-changing work for homeless youth, please visit www.nphy.org.
About Henderson Libraries
Established in 1944 as a single library in Downtown Henderson, Henderson Libraries operates four locations in Henderson, providing free access to materials, programs, and services to meet the diverse and varied needs of the community throughout Southern Nevada. For more information, please visit hendersonlibraries.com.
About Las Vegas-Clark County Library District
The award-winning Las Vegas-Clark County Library District is a $92 million independent taxing entity that serves a diverse community over 8,000 square miles. Through its 25 branches and website, the Library District offers a collection of 2.8 million items consisting of books, audio and video, eMedia, homework help, and free programs for all ages. The Library District is a vibrant and vital member of the community offering limitless learning; business and career advancement; government and social services support; and best of all, a place where customers find a sense of culture and community. For information, visit www.lvccld.org.