LSSWis - Lutheran Social Services (LSS) of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan

Lutheran Social Services of
Wisconsin and Upper Michigan


Teen Runaway & Homelessness Programs

Networking and Support Services for Youth and Families

We offer runaway and youth services program to runaway youth and their families in Wisconsin. Each year, nearly 30,000 Wisconsin families are confronted with a teen runaway issue, putting the entire family in crisis. There are 10,000 homeless youth in Wisconsin. Nationally, 1.3 million runaway and homeless youth live on the streets of America.

And, one in seven youth run away before they reach age 18. Sadly, more than 5,000 runaway and homeless youth die on the streets in the United States each year.

To impact these statistics and the teens behind them, our Runaway and Youth Services program works to improve the support network for both troubled youth and their families through confidential and voluntary crisis intervention, and referral services offered in locations throughout Wisconsin.

We help families through challenges while negotiating the passage from adolescence to adulthood. We also understand that parenting is a tough job with no easy answers. So, whether you are young person who’s overwhelmed by family troubles, on the run or considering it, or you are a parent wondering where to find help for your daughter or son – we are here for you. Please know that many teens and their parents struggle with similar issues so you are not alone.

The program focuses on:

  • Strengthening families
  • Preventing family dissolution
  • Promoting self-sufficiency
  • Assuring permanent stabilization

Runaway and Homeless Youth Services (RAYS)

Whether you are an overwhelmed teenager, on the run or considering it, or a family member wondering where to find help for your son or daughter, you are not alone. Many teens and their families struggle with similar issues. In fact, each year, nearly 30,000 Wisconsin families are confronted with a teen runaway. 

Although teens run away from home for various reasons, the most common is unresolved conflict, caused by misunderstandings, a lack of communication and difference over roles, or confusion about rules and expectations at home. With RAYS, our staff can help guide your family through these difficult issues.  

What is Rays? 

RAYS, or Runaway and Homeless Youth Services, is a programing serving youth ages 11-17 and their families through crisis intervention, short term counseling, street/community outreach and education, a 24-hour helpline, and temporary shelter. Independent living programs for older youth and transitional living services are also available. The RAYS program is strength based and solution focused.

Our goals

  • Strengthen families
  • Prevent family dissolution
  • Promote self-sufficiency
  • Assure permanent, stable homes

Programs and services

  • 24-Hour Helpline: This toll-free line is a resource for runaways, parents, relatives and friends who need support and information.
  • Emergency Shelter: License, volunteer families provide a safe and caring environment for teens in crises. With parental consent, teens may be placed in a temporary emergency shelter home.
  • Youth Outreach Services: Teens often find asking for help difficult. Our outreach teams connect with youth in places they typically congregate, letting them know about their safety and well-being.
  • Family Mediation or Counseling: Free, confidential and voluntary short term medication is available to youth and their families to help resolve conflict. 
  • Educational Programs: Our staff can provide informational presentations or workshops to schools, community organizations, churches or businesses. These are offered at a very low cost, or completely free, and cover a variety of topics. 

Who we serve

The RAYS staff offers support to youth and their families in 19 counties throughout Wisconsin. To find RAY services in your area, contact: 

  • Columbia and Sauk Counties - 608-355-4103
  • Crawford, Grant, Green, Iowa and Lafayette Counties - 608-935-9235 x14
  • Chippewa, Clark, Eau Claire, and Rusk Counties - 715-832-2221
  • Fond du Lac County - 920-907-0900
  • Manitowoc County - 920-682-2816
  • Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, and Taylor Counties - 715-261-8810
  • Rock County - 608-752-7660 ext. 5117
  • Sheboygan County - 920-458-7100

Get in touch

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647 W. Virginia Street
Milwaukee, WI 53204

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© 2016 Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan