The SAFE Alliance
The mission of The SAFE Alliance (SAFE | stop abuse for everyone) is: To lead in ending sexual assault and exploitation, child abuse, and domestic violence through prevention, intervention, and advocacy for change.
SAFE serves youth and adults of diverse backgrounds who have experienced or are at-risk of experiencing the interrelated crimes of domestic, sexual and child abuse, primarily in the City of Austin/Travis County, TX and surrounding counties. Most of the adults (primarily, but not exclusively, women) with and without children whom we serve are low-income, including homeless families. The youth we serve who were removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect are at-risk of homelessness, juvenile justice system involvement, early pregnancy, dropping out of high school, and being involved in violence.
Also, SAFE offers trainings, materials and other educational resources to people at risk, parents, professionals and other community members, to prevent violence and promote healthy relationships and environments. SAFE advocates within systems and communities for practices, policies and beliefs to achieve social justice and be more responsive to survivors.
Our agency is located in Austin, and we operate primarily from two campuses: one on Grove Boulevard, and one on Manor Road (now known as Rathgeber Village). We also have staff providing services at various other sites in the Austin-area community. SAFE offers trainings and curricula across the U.S. and internationally.
SAFE is committed to never again seeing an abused child who is victimized as an adult, a little boy who grew up to beat his girlfriend after years of watching his dad beat his mother, a battered woman who loses custody of her children because of abuse by their father, or all the other myriad examples of the epidemic of violence that is transferred person to person and generation to generation.
SAFE provides many services to youth and families who are working to heal from domestic, sexual and child abuse. Among these are residential services at our Rathgeber Village campus, for youth ages 0-22 who have been removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect, and need immediate, protective care. This includes our: Emergency Care (formerly known as Emergency Shelter); Teen Parent & Early Childhood; Transitional Living; and Supervised Independent Living programs.
Each program is housed in a family-style cottage, and operates 24/7. They provide high-quality, nurturing services that support approximately 180 vulnerable youth annually, as youth begin the difficult journey of healing and building their stability and well-being. During April 2017-December 2017, 142 youth were served in these residential programs.
These youth have endured terrible abuse, neglect and trauma, and many are struggling with severe behavioral and other challenges. Others have been through multiple, often negative, foster care and other placements, and do not trust anyone they don’t know. As a result, they may try to run away, behave in a hostile manner, or otherwise act out their pain and trauma while transitioning to living at SAFE.
The First Nonprofit Foundation grant supported part of the cost of buying new, upgraded security cameras. SAFE’s former camera system did not provide us with comprehensive footage, or ready access to real-time footage. The new camera system includes IP (networked cameras), which provide higher-quality footage that our staff can easily view and study. Staff will be able to watch footage remotely, and in real-time, from their secure agency computers with internet access. This upgraded camera system was the unique, best solution for us to better protect the safety of youth and others at the Rathgeber Village campus.
Cameras have been installed in four of the buildings at SAFE’s Rathgeber Village campus, and the remainder are projected to be completed by the first week of February 2018. Staff trainings on the use of these cameras are also anticipated to begin in February. This project has experienced delays due to obstacles that occurred over the past several months, as described below.
Youth who have endured severe abuse, neglect and trauma need the safest environment possible, to ensure their well-being and that of the staff, volunteers, and others with whom they live with and interact. The new security cameras are a key part of providing this secure atmosphere. As long as an agency serving vulnerable youth is committed to maintaining the equipment, and providing training and guidance to their staff to use it effectively, this project could be replicated to benefit those agencies.
We continue to learn that delays can come up when working with vendors. This could be due to increases in jobs for and greater demands on the time of vendors, resulting from the commercial and population growth in our area. Other delays can occur due to other circumstances over which we also have little or no control, such as bad weather or personnel changes.