Collaboration Between FYSB-Supported Hotlines Means No Calls Go Unanswered

When a system failure on July 5 shut down The National Domestic Violence Hotline’s phones without warning, an emergency backup plan and partnership with the National Runaway Switchboard meant open phone lines for callers.

“Phone lines may fail, but the two hotlines do not,” says Debbie Powell, acting associate commissioner for the Family and Youth Services Bureau, which provides funding to both organizations for their hotline services. “The National Domestic Violence Hotline and the National Runaway Switchboard have done an amazing job of planning for contingencies and ensuring that American families and youth in crisis have trained, compassionate crisis intervention specialists ready to take their calls and assist them in getting the help they need.”

The Hotline and NRS have shared a “Reciprocal Crisis Line Service Continuity Plan” since 2009. To ensure that service continues as seamlessly as possible, the organizations regularly test the process for rolling one hotline’s calls over to the other. They also share their resource databases, protocols and other information and train each other’s management staff.

“Our crisis intervention models are almost identical, so it is not an enormous shift for our teams to make,” says The Hotline’s Katie Ray-Jones.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline, in Austin, TX, is a nonprofit organization that provides crisis intervention, information and referral to victims of domestic violence, perpetrators, friends and families. The National Runaway Switchboard, in Chicago, provides education and crisis services to keep America’s runaway, homeless and at-risk youth safe and off the streets.  The organizations’ hotlines are open 24 hours a day.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

National Runaway Switchboard: 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929)