Missing Children: Incidences and Characteristics of Runaway Children and Resources Available to Them (page 2)

By — University of Florida IFAS Extension
Updated on May 2, 2014

Resources for Families, Counselors, and Extension Agents

There are many resources that can aid families and professionals as they try to deal with the issues associated with runaways. These resources are also of use to runaways, throwaways, or any child facing problems at home.


Some national 24-hour crisis hotlines are aimed solely at helping children in crisis. These include, but are not limited to:


These toll-free numbers can provide the caller with immediate counseling, answer legal questions, give needed information, and act as a referral service. The Web sites provide additional resources for teenagers in distress, teachers, advocates, and the community.

Home Free Program

Greyhound Lines, Inc. offers a program for runaways called "Home Free." It provides young adults ages twelve to twenty with a free bus ticket home. Participants can use this service twice before being charged for the ticket. This program has helped nearly 10,000 children get back home. More information is available at their Web site: .

Project Safe Place

Project Safe Place, started by the YMCA in 1983, provides emergency help to children and teens who need assistance or feel afraid. A yellow and black sign that children are taught to recognize is placed outside of participating agencies, businesses, public libraries, and even in the side window of some city busses. Once the child is there, an employee will find a comfortable spot for the child to wait while he or she calls the local Safe Place contact phone number. Then a Safe Place volunteer will come to talk to the child and take them wherever they need to go, whether that is an agency for counseling or support, or a shelter to spend the night. Children learn about this program through school, ad campaigns, and word of mouth. Most schools also give contact information cards to their students. These cards are small enough to keep in a pocket or notebook. Project Safe Place is always looking for more agencies and businesses to take part. To learn more about becoming a part of Project Safe Place, or for more information on the services they provide, please visit , or call (502) 635-3660.

Emergency Shelters

Emergency shelters provide youth in crisis with a safe place to spend the night. There are many different kinds of shelters, but all provide necessities like beds, food, and blankets. The one that services Alachua County (as well as ten other Florida counties) is Interface, part of the Corner Drug Store, a local nonprofit. Interface can house up to 40 children a night. It also offers its services to other at-risk teenagers, such as children who often skip school or who cannot get along with parents and adults. Clients are assigned a counselor, and a case worker is available. Shelters such as Interface often are connected to other services, such as drug rehab, family counseling, and independent living programs, to provide better care to their clients. Interface can be contacted 24 hours a day at their toll-free number (1-800-854-5377). Administration services can be reached at (352) 334-3800 during normal business hours. To find an emergency shelter outside of Alachua County, contact the area's division of the United Way, or call the local police department or social services agency for assistance.

Internet Resources

The Internet provides a wide variety of resources. They range from well-planned teaching curriculums like the ones posted by the National Runaway Switchboard on their Web site ( ) to a "choose-your-own-adventure" type story (http://the ). The Teens in Trouble Web site ( ) is a good place to start, and Yahoo provides a directory with a list of some major resources ( ), but the best way to find information about a particular location or program is to do a Web search. Remember, though, that not all Web sites provide good, or even accurate, information. Sites posted by government agencies, university studies, and national nonprofit programs are usually much more reliable than other sites, but even they have their problems at times.


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