Everett Transit, Cocoon House team up to help teens in trouble
EVERETT - Teens in trouble can get a ride to safety through an initiative that rolled out locally last month.
The program is called Safe Place. A teen in trouble, with the help of an Everett Transit bus driver, can get a free ride to Cocoon House, a regional nonprofit shelter for teens.
The yellow diamond Safe Place logo now on Everett Transit buses lets teens know they can ask the bus driver for help.
The teen also can call 425-877-5171 and a Cocoon House employee will be dispatched to the teen’s location.
Cocoon House workers counsel teens with the focus on bringing them back to their families, but they often spend time at the shelter because home is where they ran away from.
“For some, home is not an option. A shelter is,” Cocoon House program manager Joe Alonzo said. Alonzo worked on fostering Safe Place in King County in 2011 before moving here.
“Statistics show for a young female, within 48 hours on the streets, risk being lured into prostitution,” Alonzo said.
The program seems to be working. One week Cocoon House received three calls. During an interview last month, Safe Place’s fourth call came in from Arlington.
Three calls in one week is high, Alonzo said. King County’s Safe Place hot line sometimes would receive one call every few weeks, he said.
Cocoon House has a 45-minute response time goal for all calls, Alonzo said.
While Safe Place is centered in Everett now, Cocoon House is reaching out to Community Transit, libraries and regional fire stations such as Monroe Fire District 3 to expand the program in the future, Alonzo said. He’s looking at places where youth at risk are likely to be hanging out at night.
Alonzo estimates there are between 250 and 300 homeless youth in Snohomish County. Between 1.6 and 2.5 million teenagers run away from home each year, the national Safe Place organization reports.
For this program, the teen has to be between 13 and 17 and in real trouble.
“We’re trying to grab the kids who have nothing and in vulnerable situations,” Alonzo said.
Teens can text “SAFE” and their current location to 69866 to get the address of the nearest shelter.
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