Wisconsin Association for Homeless and Runaway Services


Why we're here ...

Each year over 26,000 Wisconsin Families are confronted with a profound crisis — the running away of their child.  Young people run away from home for a variety of reasons. In most instances, they leave because of a family conflict, typically by lack of communication. Other times, they are forced out of their homes by parents or leave to escape sexual or physical abuse. Returning a youth to this environment without an attempt at resolution can result in more runaway episodes, continuing family conflict, or even more tragic consequences.

The Wisconsin Association for Homeless and Runaway Services, formed in 1979, is a coalition of community based, voluntary, non-profit agencies. The Association’s members provide preventive and crisis counseling, temporary shelter, and referral services to these troubled youth. Family counseling is also provided to bring about reconciliation with parents whenever possible. Program services are available on a walk-in basis, as well as through 24 hour crisis hotlines.

The programs present young people with an opportunity to sort out problems and begin building more productive relationships with parents, friends, school, and community.



The Goals of Wisconsin Association for Homeless and Runaway Services are:

  1. To identify, inform, and bring together a broad based constituency interested in improving and supporting services to runaway and homeless youth.


  2. Through the provision of technical assistance to youth service workers in seminars, conferences, and workshops, as well as individual technical assistance on grant writing, program development, service delivery, and operation of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Management Information System.
  3. Through provision of orientation packets and on-site training for new executive directors and/or members.
  4. Through keeping members informed about best practice guidelines for service providers, trends, policy issues, and funding resources.
  5. Through networking with other professionals and staff who serve runaway and homeless youth.
  6. Through assistance to local communities in developing services.

  7. To monitor and advocate for legislation and regulations that will improve services to runaway and homeless youth.


  8. Through monitoring resolutions, committees, and legislative initiatives that affect runaways and their families.
  9. Through policy analysis of legislation and regulations impacting adolescents and youth serving community based organizations.
  10. Through issue alerts providing timely information regarding state and federal issues pertaining to runaway and homeless youth.
  11. Through representation of concerns common to community based agencies serving youth to steering committees, task forces, and national organizations.

  12. To provide mutual support, technical assistance, and information among runaway services and homes for pregnant and parenting teens.


  13. Through research and evaluation, WAHRS provides data collection of member outcomes and statistics in order to keep membership informed of developments that may affect services to youth.
  14. Annual conferences, quarterly meetings, skill building workshops, and training events provide direct service providers and nonprofit managers an opportunity for networking and education.
  15. By serving as an information clearinghouse, answering questions and providing resources to the media, government officials, nonprofit service providers, students and other interested parties information regarding youth in crisis, and runaway and homeless youth, including those who are pregnant or parenting.

  16. To secure adequate funding to maintain runaway services and homes for pregnant and parenting teens.


  17. Through the exploration of funding sources for members.
  18. Through the development and implementation of a statewide funding formula for runaway programs.


For more information, email: Patricia Balke, Executive Director