As of January 15, 2013, the National Runaway Switchboard began doing business as the National Runaway Safeline.
As the go-to resource for America’s runaway, homeless and at-risk youth and their families, why would we change our name?
Simply put, the word "switchboard" no longer resonates with today’s youth. When we were founded over 40 years ago
as Metro-Help, operating out of a tiny storefront in Chicago, it wasn’t uncommon for telephone operators to manually connect calls using switchboards.
However, when we asked today's teenagers what they thought a switchboard was, the responses were varied, from "DJ board" to "1920s telephones" to "outdated". The word loses its meaning in a world where technology allows humans to connect with others around the globe with the press of a button.
In addition, "switchboard" no longer reflects the various ways youth in crisis can connect with our services. Since our founding, we grew into a national organization and expanded our crisis intervention offerings to include bulletin boards, crisis emails, and live chat.
After a comprehensive evaluation, including discussions with stakeholders and focus groups with youth, we chose to adopt a new name that expresses our growing ability to make a connection and make a difference for the population we serve - National Runaway Safeline.
continues to help keep America’s runaway, homeless and at-risk youth safe and off the streets.
We still offer a proprietary, holistic and expert crisis intervention model
focused on addressing at-risk issues immediately.
, including Home Free
, remain confidential, anonymous, and available 24/7, providing a comprehensive connection to over 10,000 different organizations and resources for at-risk youth and their families.
The National Runaway Safeline continues its distinction of being the federally designated national communication system for runaway and homeless youth since its inception in 1974.
In the upcoming months, we will share how you can help us build the depth and breadth of National Runaway Safeline’s relevance as a frontline first responder, dedicated to providing immediate hope and the ability to make empowered decisions to anyone, anytime.