Temporary Shelters for Teens in Crisis

Temporary Shelters Provide Emergency Help to Troubled Teens

Depressed teenager sitting lonely outdoors
Getty Images/Petar Chernaev

Temporary shelters offer emergency help and a safe haven for teens and families in crisis. These short-term programs are available in most communities to help troubled teens and their families by providing crisis counseling and referral services.

If you find yourself in this difficult situation with your teen, it is good to know there are resources available. These can help your family negotiate a crisis and figure out the next steps.

What Are Temporary Shelters for Teens?

Temporary shelters are available to help families work through a crisis situation. This could include a teen who is aggressive towards family members or one who threatens to run away.

In a crisis, families can often benefit from time apart. Sometimes the problem can be solved or brought to a manageable point by simply being away from one another for a few days. Tempers become calmer and everyone is given a chance to breathe and look at the situation without the all of the tension.

Shelters are available to provide skilled assistance in evaluating the situation and getting the right professional help for a troubled teen.

What Temporary Shelters Can Provide

Shelters are designed to help stabilize emergency situations. They can also provide information on possible reasons for the out of control behavior and identify professional resources to help your teen make positive changes.


This basic help is provided by the shelter in a setting that offers:

  • Food and shelter
  • A safe environment
  • A structured program
  • Crisis counseling
  • Help in finding solutions
  • Emotional support to the teen and parents
  • Evaluation of problems behind the teens’ behavior
  • Assistance in finding appropriate therapy and other services 

    What Temporary Shelters Cannot Provide

    This type of program is not appropriate for a teen with serious mental health issues such as depressioncutting or an eating disorder. Temporary shelters are for behavior problems that threaten the safety of the teen and family members and need to be addressed immediately.

    • Temporary shelters are not set up to deal with a teen who is seriously out of control.
    • They are not intended to provide help in dealing with behaviors that can't be managed safely at home but are not serious enough for admission to a psychiatric hospital.
    • Shelters do not provide in-depth therapy or create long-term behavioral changes.

    How to Locate Temporary Teen Shelters

    The best source for information about temporary shelter programs is obtained by contacting professional therapists and programs working specifically with troubled teens.

    Shelters can also be located by:

    • Search resources available to homeless and runaway teens.
    • Contact teen hotlines.
    • Call 211 which is a national crisis hotline operated by United Way.

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