Teens and families can text or chat for advice or counseling

DFPS Media Specialists

April 23, 2014

AUSTIN - The Texas Youth and Runaway Hotline (TexasYouth.org) has been fielding the calls of youth who are in crisis and stressed-out parents for decades, lending an understanding ear and offering help and advice when they need it most.  Now, teens and families can get the same help by texting the hotline or with live chat!

DFPS launched the new services on April 1 and is running a mobile and online ad campaign through the end of August to tell teens and families about all the options for reaching the hotline:

"Let's face it, phone booths are a thing of the past," said Larry Imhoff, director of the Texas Youth and Runaway Hotline. "Most everyone has a mobile phone these days and texting is how many people, especially young people, communicate.  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."

Texas set up a runaway hotline in 1973 because a growing runaway problem that was exposing teens to violence and exploitation. Originally called Operation Peace of Mind, the hotline was renamed the Texas Runaway Hotline in 1983. 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 hotlines, which fields 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 changed.