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Public Statements

The National Runaway Switchboard Becomes the National Runaway Safeline

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the National Runaway Safeline, which changed its name last month from the National Runaway Switchboard.

The NRS was established in 1971 to fill a need for comprehensive crisis intervention for young people in Chicago. It was conceived as a centralized organization with free 24-hour services, expertise in all youth-related issues and as an information clearinghouse of youth services.

In 1974, NRS received an eight-month federal demonstration grant to establish a national hotline for runaway, homeless, and at-risk youth. The need for the service was clearly demonstrated over the eight-month period, during which time 11,000 calls were received. Since then, its capabilities and services have grown considerably, now handling over 100,000 calls each year.

Since its founding, NRS grew into a national organization and expanded its crisis intervention offerings to include bulletin boards, crisis emails, and live chat. Recognizing that the term ``switchboard'' does not reflect the various ways youth in crisis can connect with its services, the organization has changed its name to the National Runaway Safeline.

The organization maintains its holistic and expert crisis intervention model focused on addressing at-risk issues immediately. Its services remain confidential, anonymous, and available 24/7, providing a comprehensive connection to more than 10,000 different organizations and resources for at-risk youth and their families. The organization continues its service as the federally-designated communication system for runaway and homeless youth.

As a strong advocate of helping homeless individuals and as a long-time supporter of the organization, I am pleased that the NRS will continue its mission to help keep America's runaway, homeless and at-risk youth safe and off the streets. We are proud to have this nationally-recognized effort housed in Chicago, and I congratulate Maureen Blaha and her staff for their vision and leadership.

I welcome this opportunity to celebrate the growth, progress and impact that the National Runaway Safeline has had in the last 42 years and will continue to have in the decades to come.


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