Partnership Reunites Youth With Their Families – Free of Charge
CHICAGO (Aug. 24, 2004) – More than 10,000 free rides have been issued to youth throughout the country since the National Runaway Switchboard (NRS) and Greyhound Lines, Inc. entered a partnership to make the Home Free program a comprehensive nationwide effort in 1995. In 2003 alone, 847 youth were served through Home Free.
Home Free ensures every youth who qualifies is reunited with his family. The program also serves older youth who have the option of being transported to a transitional living program in their local community.
"The success of this program demonstrates how corporate America can get involved and proactively help youth who are in crisis," said Maureen Blaha, executive director of NRS. "More than 1,200 youth run from home each day and Greyhound is there to make sure there’s a free ride home if they need it."
Prior to 1995
The Home Free program has its beginnings in 1987. Administered initially on a local level by police departments who had the authority to take a runaway youth to a Greyhound bus station and access a one-way bus ticket, there soon became the need for a nationwide administrator to track, screen and support runaway youth looking to return home. In mid-October 1995, NRS and Greyhound entered a partnership where NRS would become the administrator of Home Free and Greyhound would continue to issue free tickets.
"Youth are often reluctant to approach police officers to access help," said Blaha. "With NRS administering Home Free, we are the initial contact for youth who call to utilize the program, the fear or stigma of going to the police is diminished. Our front line team of staff and more than 150 volunteers in the NRS call center are available to offer support, provide services to help resolve issues, and ultimately reunite youth with their families. NRS also offers referrals for local resources to help families stay in tact once a youth returns home."
"This partnership means safe, reliable transportation home and a viable option for runaway youth," said Stephen Gorman, president and chief executive officer of Greyhound Lines, Inc. "Home Free continues to be a successful intervention to reunite families."
How the Program Works
Once a youth has voluntarily concluded that she wants to return home, a conference call to her legal guardian is placed. During the conference call, the NRS front line team works with the family to reestablish communication, ensure that a runaway report is on file with the local police department, and that the parent/guardian gives permission for the youth to ride the bus.
About Greyhound Lines, Inc.
Greyhound is the largest North American provider of intercity bus transportation, serving more than 3,300 destinations with 18,000 daily departures across the continent. The company also provides Greyhound PackageXpress (GPX), as well as Greyhound Travel Services including vacation packages, charters, sightseeing and shore services. For fare and schedule information and to buy tickets call 1-800-231-2222 or visit the Web site at www.greyhound.com.
About the National Runaway Switchboard
The National Runaway Switchboard, established in 1971, serves as the federally-designated national communication system for homeless and runaway youth. Recognized as the oldest hotline in the world, NRS, with the support of more than 150 volunteers, has handled more than 3 million calls in its 33-year history and handled over 122,000 calls last year. NRS provides crisis intervention, referrals to local resources, and education and prevention services to youth, families and community members throughout the country 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The NRS crisis hotline is 800-621-4000. For more information visit www.nrscrisisline.org.