National Runaway Safeline

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Since its beginnings as MetroHelp in 1971, the National Runaway Safeline (NRS) has been providing dedicated and compassionate services to young people and their families. For 50 years, NRS has been there for youth and their families, growing and developing to keep up with the ways that young people communicate. We strive to meet youth where they are, provide accurate resources, offer a free ride home or a compassionate ear, and continue to build our capacity to help more young people be safe and off the streets.

  • Take a moment to scroll through our timeline of key events in the history of NRS and of runaway and homeless youth (RHY) services
  • Donate to our 50 For 50 campaign to help us reach our goal of $25,000! This money will allow us to connect with youth directly and show them that they are never alone
  • Tell us what NRS means to you! Did you volunteer at NRS, receive NRS services, or care about someone who has? Tell us your story in the comment section below!

1971

Metrohelp is established

Metro-Help was established to help Chicago youth in crisis as a clearinghouse to connect them with services throughout the region.

1971

1974

Runaway Youth act

In 1974, the Runaway Youth Act passed, which decriminalized runaway youth and authorized funding for Basic Center Programs (BCP). 

Metro-Help received Federal funding to expand its scope nationally, and began operating as the National Runaway Switchboard.

1974

1995

Home Free

In partnership with Greyhound Lines, LLC, NRS created the ‘Home Free’ program. This was designed to provide a free bus ticket for young people ready to return home.

Since its inception, Home Free has provided nearly 17,000 youth with a way home.

1995

2001

NRPM

In October 2001, national leaders met at the White House Conference on Exploited and Runaway Children to raise public awareness of the steps that parents, law enforcement, and communities could take to make America’s children safer.

The conference culminated in the launch of National Runaway Prevention Week, which has since expanded into a month-long prevention and awareness campaign.

2001

2015

What’s a switchboard?

In 2015, NRS officially rebranded, changing its title from ‘Switchboard’ to ‘Safeline’. This is one of the many ways NRS has worked to be accessible and relevant to the young people we serve.

2015

2020

Fully virtual

Due to the concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic, NRS went fully remote. For the first time, Crisis Services Team Members were supporting young people away from NRS’ Chicago office.

2020
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We couldn’t do what we do without the support of our incredible donors and volunteers. Join in on celebrating this milestone by giving today!…

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