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if i help a homeless child do I go to jail

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  • if i help a homeless child do I go to jail

    There is a child on the street, he hangs around my neighborhood so I thought he was a local kid. Three days ago I found him sleeping in my car. He told me he is from a state more than 900 miles away. He refuses to call home or go to a shelter. I want to help him but he has told me he will only come to stay if I promised not to contact his family. He said this is the third time he has run away and will never go home again. My question is, he is here and eating out of trash cans. Its a small town with no social programs or help. What can I do to help without going to jail. I have fed him but not given him money. He will not tell me his age but he seems to be about 16. He will not go into much detail about why he ran away just that he did. He says he will not go to a family member and has been on the street for some time. If he is 16 or older I think I could help him get a job, provide a place to sleep and food to get him on his feet. I know there are many laws and dont want to give up where I am. Can you tell me what states I would be in trouble in and what laws I would be subject to for helping this boy. I was tossed out of home at 16 and my uncles took me in, I know what its like to be out there. I am not looking to go to jail for helping this child but I dont want him to be victiumized by a adult for food and a warm place to sleep. I dont need opion I need facts and law. I am not going to go to the police because I promised him and if i do, the next person to find him could realy hurt him.

  • #2
    Re: if i help a homeless child do I go to jail

    Thank you for contacting the National Runaway Switchboard. We hope that we can be of assistance to you.

    We are not legally trained here so we can answer your questions in general terms and hopefully provide you with some national hotlines that may be of greater assistance. You may also want to call the police confidentially to get the most specific answers to your questions.

    We are glad to hear that you are assisting this youth out during his time of need. He sounds lucky to have found you instead of someone that may cause him harm or exploit him. Does he think that his family filed a runaway report with the police back home? If they did, this may show up if he were to apply for employment anywhere. It is not illegal to runaway but if the police are involved, then it may show up anytime his name is run.

    Do you know if he has any identification on him? That may be another problem he runs into if he doesn’t. Many possible employers require an ID and if he doesn’t have one or if it’s from another state, they may start to ask questions.

    You said that you don’t want to run into any legal troubles by assisting this youth. Unfortunately, we can’t give you specifics about the laws in your state. Generally speaking though, if you are caught with this youth, you may face either harboring a runaway or contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

    One place that may be able to assist him is Job Corps. They can help him obtain his G.E.D. and job skill training. They also provide housing and food. Their hotline is 1-800-733-5627 and their website is; they are available 24 hours a day. One thing I must mention and this is pretty standard with shelters also, they require parental consent for a youth 16-17. In most states, that is a law.

    Another place that may be able to offer some assistance is Safe Place, which is a nationwide youth outreach program. They can provide him with counseling, support, a safe place to stay or whatever else he needs. You can find out where a Safe Place is located by calling their hotline (1-888-290-7233) or checking their website ( They too are required to notify his parents that he is safe.

    You can also pass our number along to him. He may feel more comfortable talking to someone who is anonymous and confidential. We don’t track our calls and, unless we are told, we don’t know where they are coming from. We can be reached at 1-800-RUNAWAY and we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We hope to hear from him soon. Good luck!

    Please remember you can reach us directly by calling our 24 hour hotline, 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929) or through our Live Chat.

    National Runaway Safeline
    [email protected] (Crisis Email)
    1-800-RUNAWAY (24 Hour Hotline)

    Tell us what you think about your experience!


    • #3
      i need help

      Hello my name is *****(edited to maintain confidentiality) i am 8 months pregnant and dont have a place to live i want my baby i want to be able to take care of her i need some help if u know some one who can help me without DHR or anybody else trying to take her away please write me.
      Last edited by ccsmod3; 05-25-2011, 09:27 PM.


      • #4
        Re: i need help

        Thank you for reaching out to the National Runaway Switchboard. It sounds like you are in a difficult situation and we will try our best to help you with resources. You mention DHR, so we have provided some resources for the state of Alabama, if you do happen to be located there.

        Grace Place Pregnancy Center: Offers a variety of services for both pregnancy and parenting.
        Prattville, AL (outside of Montgomery)

        Hannah Homes: Offer a residential, home-like setting to women, mothers & children.
        Chelsea, AL (outside of Birmingham)

        Another resource that might be able to point you in the right direction is this ACF (Administration of Children & Families) link: Simply click on your state and look for “Maternity Group Home” under the Transitional Living Program category.

        We hope that at least gets your started finding some places that might help. You are more than welcome to call us at 1-800-RUNAWAY or try out our new Live Chat service by going to and clicking on the big red button on top. Best of luck!
        Please remember you can reach us directly by calling our 24 hour hotline, 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929) or through our Live Chat.

        National Runaway Safeline
        [email protected] (Crisis Email)
        1-800-RUNAWAY (24 Hour Hotline)

        Tell us what you think about your experience!


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