NCFY Recommends: Hotlines for Youth Who Need Help This Summer


Photograph of a young man making a telephone call.We're re-posting a piece we published last December about youth crisis hotlines, because it turns out, summer is a time many youth find themselves on the streets. You might also be interested in reading about how two crisis lines funded in part by the Family and Youth Services Bureau keep their lines open no matter what.

Many communities report a spike in the number of youth who run away as the holidays approach, due to conflict at home and problems at school. "The first part of the holidays, the number of young people running away seems to go down, because kids and families really want to be together and make it work," says Susan Harmon of National Safe Place, a network of organizations working to keep young people off the streets. "But then the stressors come back, and we do see more youth running away." 

The National Runaway Switchboard, a hotline for youth and those who care about them, gets the most calls from youth in crisis during the summer, says Gordon Vance, NRS's director of services, not in the cold of winter. Still, he says the Switchboard does see an uptick in youth calling from the streets around the new year. "When school's out, young people lose a lot of the people around them who they'd go to if they need something," he says, which forces them to seek help elsewhere.

Should young people find themselves on the streets this holiday season, or at any other time of the year, having a few numbers saved in their phones can help them find safety and support quickly.

  • National Safe Place's Txt 4 Help: When youth text the word SAFE and their current location (street address, city and state) to the number 69866, they'll receive the address of the nearest Safe Place site and a phone number for the local youth shelter.
  • The National Runaway Switchboard: Youth can call 1-800-RUNAWAY or chat live on the NRS website for confidential support and referrals to service providers. They may also qualify for a free bus ticket home.
  • The Trevor Project, Lifeline and TrevorChat: Youth who are feeling alone, confused or in crisis can call 1-866-488-7386 or chat online with a trained advocate. The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.


National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth | 5515 Security Lane, Suite 800 | North Bethesda, MD 20852 | (301) 608-8098 |