1. Parenting
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Runaway Shelters for Troubled Teens

How These Programs Can Help When a Teen Runs Away from Home


Young woman wearing white muffler
Datacraft Co Ltd/Getty Images

Quick Links: Troubled Teens | Quiz: Is Your Teen At-Risk?

A troubled teen who makes the decision to run away from home creates significant heartbreak and worry for their parents. When running away is a problem, runaway shelters may help provide a solution as they are designed to help teens who have run away and can provide assistance to parents in helping a teen transition back home.

Teen Runaway Shelters Defined

Runaway shelters and programs for teens provide temporary housing, food and specialized counseling to troubled teens who run away from home. They provide a safe place for teens to face and confront their problems versus running away and avoiding them. They also assist families in identifying the reasons a teen chose to leave and help determine next steps for dealing with these issues.

Services Provided by Runaway Shelters

The overall goal of shelters for runaways is to assist in re-uniting families and resolving the problems that motivated your teen to run away in an effort to help ensure that they don't run away again. Temporary shelters can provide a place for your teen to live while dealing with the reasons for running and the consequences from their decision to do so.

Runaway shelters provide some or all of the following services:

  • Temporary shelter and a safe place to stay
  • Individual therapy to help teens articulate their reasons for running
  • Regular meals
  • Group therapy with other teens in similar situations
  • Counseling by phone for teens who call in
  • Resources for work, academic, medical and other needs
  • Family therapy focused on dealing with the crisis caused by the teen leaving

How Runaway Shelters Can Help

When a teen agrees to go to a runaway shelter, they make a healthy decision to seek support and start taking responsibility to resolve the problems they are experiencing. Runaway shelters are established and run by staff trained to understand, work with and advocate for teens who run from problems or difficult family situations and they can assist in this family crisis by helping to:

  • Identify the problems causing the teen to run
  • Be an intermediary to help understand why your teen ran away
  • Work out an initial contract outlining the conditions a teen needs to follow once returning home
  • Discuss alternative living situations for the teen while problems get worked out
  • Provide referrals to family therapists in your area
  • Offer direction to a variety of resources to assist your teen with the problems they are having
  • Determine next steps to deal with the problems your teen is running away from

How to Locate a Shelter in Your Area

To help locate a runaway shelter call the National Runaway Switchboard at 1-800-RUNAWAY anytime, or search online for a listing of shelters in your area.

Quick Links: Troubled Teens | Quiz: Is Your Teen At-Risk?

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.