Safe Children Coalition receives state funding for new youth shelter

$750,000 awarded through Florida Department of Juvenile Justice

Safe Children Coalition President and CEO Brena Slater (left) joins state Rep. Fiona McFarland, R-Sarasota for the ceremonial check presentation. Contributed photo

Thanks to state Rep. Fiona McFarland, R-Sarasota, and state Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, along with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, the Safe Children Coalition has received $750,000 from the state to help with construction of a new youth shelter, the Coalition has announced.

The nearly 9,000-square-foot facility, which will be located on Sawyer Road in north Sarasota, will stand on 2 acres, with another 2 acres available for expansion, a news release notes.

“The Safe Children Coalition (SCC) Youth Shelter operates the only youth shelter, for ages 10 to 17,” serving the community’s homeless and runaway youth, youths who have been locked out of their family homes and, most recently, youths who are unable to return home after mental health crises in Sarasota and DeSoto counties, the release explains. The shelter takes youths from Manatee County, as well, the release says.

“Teens at the shelter will have stable and safe shelter and transportation to and from school while working towards reunification with their families or other appropriate placement,” the release points out. Counseling, life skills training and ongoing assessments “will ensure better outcomes and much-needed stability” for the young people, which will support their transition “to a more successful adulthood,” the release adds. 

“The new facility will provide customized sleeping arrangements designed to reduce the number of youths on a waiting list for safe shelter,” the release notes. It will offer nearly 3,000 safe shelter bed-nights a year “and serve up to 200 youth annually for many years to come,” the release adds. The facility “is easily accessible by public transportation, walking, or bicycling.”

“We are so grateful to Rep. McFarland and Sen. Joe Gruters, as well as our local delegation and our colleagues at the Department for Juvenile Justice, for supporting this project, and their affirmation of our work to protect children who are at risk, “said Coalition President and CEO Brena Slater n the release. “The Youth Shelter is — and will continue to be — a critical resource that will help to divert area youths from unsafe environments and give them the opportunity to lead healthier, happier and more productive lives in the future.”

For more about Safe Children Coalition or to learn how to support the effort to build the new Youth Shelter, contact Jacqueline House at or call 941-371-4799.