Safe Haven program expands to over 100 spring break locations - KMSP-TV

Safe Haven program expands to over 100 spring break locations

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Safe Haven, a program that helps keep students safe and out of harm's way during school breaks is getting a $1 million investment to expand.

9-year-old Mileena's transformation will continue this Spring Break at New Spiritual Light Missionary Baptist Church in South Shore.

"I'm trying not to get teary-eyed. The school said Mileena was too quiet and they really couldn't work with a quiet child, the teacher was saying, so I went to my daughter-in-law and my son and my daughter which is her aunt and I'm like what can we do for Mileena so she can improve in school because she's in third grade and I didn't want her to fail," said Mileena's grandmother, Lauren Johnson, in an interview with Fox 32's Tisha Lewis.

In January, the family enrolled Mileena in the Safe Haven program that provides educational activities, healthy meals and a safe environment for Chicago Public Schools students – her life has taken a 180.

"Mileena has made a big change, she's talking, she's encouraged, Ms. T really brought her out, the pastor he has a great impact on the kids," said Johnson.

Mileena is one of 1,500 students who will benefit from the city's $1 million investment to expand Safe Haven to 100 churches and community centers.

"I'm most proud that we have come together as a city to speak with one voice that when it comes to our children's education and their safety, there is no ends to what we will do to make sure every child is on their way to a promising future," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

That comes with a costly price tag including tax payer dollars.

Wednesday morning Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CPS CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett commended the pastors tasked to fulfill that promise.

"I had people calling and asking could they get their child in so it was real evidence that we needed to expand… Well you know we're in financial straits right now so we had to really figure out what we could not enhance or should not enhance and how we could use the dollars to expand Safe Haven," said Byrd-Bennett in an interview with Fox 32's Tisha Lewis.

"A lot of parents are at work and can't afford the day camps," said Reverend Renaldo Kyles, CPS Director of Faith Based Initiatives.

Kyles says the program is from 10:00am-2:00pm but many churches stay open later, until 5:00pm or 6:00pm.

There were 60 Safe Have locations last year. The newly announced million dollar investment to expand includes Safe Haven's Spring Break, After School and Summer programs. The program is free and with this expansion will serve 10,000 students.

For more information visit: 

SEE THE FULL LIST: 100 Safe Haven Locations

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