The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has added texting and live chat to the services offered on its Texas Youth and Runaway Hotline, the agency announced in April. Teens and families in crisis can interact with the hotline in these ways:
“Most everyone has a mobile phone these days, and texting is how many people, especially young people, communicate,”said Larry Imhoff, Director of the Texas Youth and Runaway Hotline. “We are hoping that more youth will reach out for help if we give them ways to contact the hotline that they’re comfortable with.”
The State of Texas set up a runaway hotline in 1973 because a growing runaway problem was exposing teens to violence and exploitation. The Department of Family and Protective Services launched the Texas Youth Hotline in 1998 to provide a broader range of services to youth and families, including crisis intervention, advocacy and information and referrals.
In 2013, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services merged the two hot-lines, which field thousands of calls each year. Trained volunteers find help for youth and their families by drawing on databases containing listings of thousands of state and local resources. These hotlines have answered more than 1 million calls, and more than 47,000 people visited the Texas Youth and Runaway Hotline website last year. However, the number of calls has been declining since 2010 as communications habits change.