Questions And Answers

What is the National Runaway Safeline (NRS)?

We are the federally-designated national communication system (hotline and website) for runaway and homeless youth. Youth and family members call 24 hours a day to work through problems and find local help from social service agencies and organizations. Some callers just need someone to talk to, others need help finding a shelter, food, medical assistance, or counseling. Some callers are on the streets, others are struggling with other issues and we work with them to identify options to prevent them from leaving their home, when possible and if appropriate.

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What is the mission of NRS?

The National Runaway Safeline's mission is to keep America's runaway, homeless and at-risk youth safe and off the streets.

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Who makes up NRS?

We have 23 paid staff members, 15-20 Board of Directors, and more than 150 volunteers.

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Who uses NRS?

Youth who are on the streets as runaways, throwaways, or homeless; youth who are thinking about running away or are in crisis; parents whose child has run from home; parents who are struggling with their child; and concerned adults who work with children, such as teachers, law enforcement personnel, agency staff, and siblings and other relatives.

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What services does NRS provide?

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Does NRS find kids?

No. Our main concern is the safety of our callers. If parents call asking for help in finding their kids, we can refer them to local police departments and national organizations such as National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for additional support.

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How many kids run away each year?

In 2002, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention estimated that 1.6 million youth run away in a year in the United States. The Research Triangle Institute studied runaway youth in 1995 and estimated that 2.8 million youth in the United States had a runaway experience during the previous year. Learn more statistics on runaway youth.

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What kind of statistics does NRS gather?

Although our services are anonymous and confidential we ask callers for age, gender, status at the time of call, means of survival, time on the street, whereabouts of youth, and how the caller heard about us. In addition, we identify problems and discuss options available based on the callers’ comfort level and area resources. However, callers disclose only as much information as they wish. We also collect statistics on the number of calls received from each state, and can provide regional statistics on the issue.

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Is there a typical runaway?

No. Kids from every socio-economic area run away from home. Most callers to NRS are girls and the average age of a caller is 16.

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Why do kids run away?

Our statistics show us that the majority (48%) of callers identify family dynamics (divorce, remarriage, step/blended families, problems with family rules, discipline, or problems with siblings) and abuse as the reason for their call. Often kids run away from home to remove themselves from an immediately painful situation, but with no plans for what to do next.

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How can I help NRS?

You can help in many ways. Volunteer your time, make a financial contribution, distribute educational and promotional materials in schools and in your community.

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Where is NRS located? Is Chicago your only office?

The call center and administrative office are located in Chicago (our only location). But because our database is so comprehensive, we are able to provide community-based referrals.

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Are your services only available for runaway, homeless and throwaway youth?

No. A youth who runs away has a tremendous impact on the community – family, school, friends. While we can provide referrals to shelter, food, and medical/legal assistance for runaway and homeless youth, prevention is one of our goals. Being available to a youth who needs someone to talk to may change his/her initial plan to leave home. Developing a plan of action with a frustrated parent can change the dynamics of a family issue. Our services are available for siblings who are caught in the middle of, or feeling neglected because of what’s going on at home. Teachers, agency personnel, law enforcement officers – anyone concerned about the well being of a youth – are encouraged to call.

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Where does NRS get its money?

We receive funding from the government, foundations, corporations, and individuals. We also receive many in-kind donations from businesses.

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How are volunteers trained?

Before taking their first call, each "liner" must complete a 40-hour training program including classroom and experiential training.

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Who do I talk to for additional information?

See our list of staff for the appropriate person to contact. If you’re not sure who to speak with, please call our general number at (773) 880-9860.

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